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Death result of failed suicide: Coroner

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/01/2017

A Hawke's Bay coroner has ruled that the death of a Napier teacher was caused when a young woman deliberately drove her car into another vehicle in a suicide attempt.

That woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lived but Pam McGarva, a 55-year-old early childhood teacher driving the car she struck, did not.

The young woman was charged with manslaughter but was acquitted after some evidence was ruled inadmissible.

Coroner Tim Scott found she deliberately drive into another car in an attempt to take her own life near Taradale in July 2014.

Her identity has been suppressed, as nothing good would come from revealing her name, Mr Scott said.

Ms McGarva was travelling to a quiz night at the Napier RSA when a car travelling towards her crossed the centre line and smashed into her vehicle at between 80 and 98 kilometres an hour.

She died 10 days later in hospital from head injuries.

"The possibility that she lost control of her car for some other reason, such as tiredness or distraction, was just that: a possibility rather than a probability, and a remote, even fanciful, possibility at that," the Mr Scott wrote in his findings.

She was also said to have a history of suicidal thoughts, and had expressed these to her GP, her brother, a gas station attendant and a sales assistant.

Her father told a police inspector at the hospital after the crash that he wouldn't be surprised if she had intentionally tried to commit suicide by crashing.

There were no witnesses to the crash, and the woman said at the time that she remembered nothing.

The coroner revealed that her car did cross the centre line, and there was no evidence of braking.

Ms McGarva was wearing a seatbelt, but there is confusion as to whether the other driver was.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

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