Inquest found council responsible for family’s death

Gosford City Council’s negligent road maintenance led to the “completely unnecessary” death of five family members who drowned when a section of the Old Pacific Highway collapsed, an inquest has found. 

Deputy NSW Coroner Paul MacMahon delivered the findings from the inquest into the deaths of Adam Holt, 30, his partner Roslyn Bragg, 29, their two young daughters and a nine-year-old nephew.

They died last June when their car drove into a collapsed culvert on the highway at Somersby, north of Sydney, during heavy storms.

Mr MacMahon told the court that the council knew the highway culvert had been rusting for several years but did nothing to repair it.

“I am satisfied that had Gosford City Council dealt with the information it had available to it concerning the Piles Creek culvert in a competent, professional and timely manner the tragedy that occurred on 8 June 2007 would not have occurred.

“I can only say that it is quite clear that their deaths were both unfortunate and completely unnecessary,” he said.

The court was told that the council could have reinforced the rusted culvert with concrete for $277,000 but the engineering advice got lost in the system.

During the inquest, it was contended Mr Holt was responsible for the accident because traces of alcohol and cannabis were found in his blood.

The coroner cleared Mr Holt of any blame, saying the drugs were not relevant factors.

He also recommended that Local Government Minister Barbara Perry initiate an independent review into the council’s operations and the competency of its officers.

It is reported the families are considering launching a civil action against the council.

Gosford City Council said in a statement that it needed time to review and consider the findings before making any comment. 

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One thought on “Inquest found council responsible for family’s death

  1. i believe that the council is totally negligent and pay the cost for damages .

    Unfortunately council may not have sufficient funds to pay the cost of this claim ,however should comence selling most of its assets to cover these costs .

    I am currently drawing a petition concerning some of the properties owned by council which is not being used by the public or is of no vlue yet council is holding on to these properties and costing ratepayers a furtune in maintaining these properties

    Highly recommend the following

    1.Council sell these properties and use these moneys to improve infrastructure
    2.Council offer 99 year lease to citizens to develop and contribute towards the rates and taxes bringing more income to council

    These recommendations are essential for the council to achieve its vision .

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