Collins’ partner cleared
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.