Collins’ part­ner cleared

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - SEA­MUS BOYER AND DEIDRE MUSSEN

The part­ner of for­mer All Black Jerry Collins had no al­co­hol in her sys­tem when she crashed in south­ern France, leav­ing her and Collins dead.

She may have swerved to avoid an an­i­mal on the A9 high­way, or fallen asleep at the wheel, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

The true cause be­hind the fa­tal crash, which also left the pair’s then 10-week-old daugh­ter Ayla crit­i­cally in­jured, may never be dis­cov­ered, says the lead French in­ves­ti­ga­tor in a re­port re­leased in France last week.

While Beziers pros­e­cu­tor Yvon Cal­vet found no de­fin­i­tive rea­son could be given for the crash, he said Alana Madill might have fallen asleep af­ter miss­ing the turnoff to their home in Nar­bonne.

The cou­ple and baby Ayla had at­tended an evening gala last June 4 in the sea­side town of Canet-en-Rous­sil­lon, and headed home about an hour’s drive away in the early hours of the next morn­ing.

Madill was driv­ing and Collins was in the back­seat with Ayla. Af­ter miss­ing the turnoff to Nar­bonne, she con­tin­ued to the next one near Beziers.

The true cause be­hind the fa­tal crash, which also left the pair’s daugh­ter Ayla crit­i­cally in­jured, may never be dis­cov­ered.

Ac­cord­ing to French me­dia re­ports at the time, the car hit a road bar­rier near the Beziers turnoff, then veered out in front of a tourist bus trav­el­ling in the same di­rec­tion, in­stantly killing Collins and Madill.

Ayla was plucked from the wreck and flown to hospi­tal in Montpellier, where she stayed for a month be­fore shift­ing to Canada to be raised by her ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents.

The Madill fam­ily, in­clud­ing Ayla, were in New Zealand for the un­veil­ing of a head­stone for Collins and Madill at their joint grave in Porirua’s Whenua Tapu ceme­tery on the eve of the first an­niver­sary of their deaths ear­lier this month.

The re­port also found the Por­tuguese bus driver was not at fault for the crash, with tests con­firm­ing he too had not been drink­ing or tak­ing drugs be­fore driv­ing that morn­ing.

Cal­vet found the ex­act cause was un­likely to be de­ter­mined be­cause there were no wit­nesses to the ini­tial im­pact.

French high­ways com­monly fea­ture CCTV cam­eras, but the clos­est to the crash site was about 3km away. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been of­fi­cially closed. Tim Cas­tle, spokesman for the Collins and Madill fam­i­lies, said last Tues­day that nei­ther fam­i­lies had seen the re­port and would not com­ment un­til they have had a chance to con­sider it.

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