Coroner report released

VICTORIA STATE coroner, Graeme Johnstone's report on his findings into the death of a course marshal during last year's Australian GP were released Friday, and was very critical of race organizers.

Course marshal Graham Beveridge was killed during last year's Australian Grand Prix when a wheel flew from Jacques Villeneuve's BAR through a gap in the debris fence that surrounds the track and struck Beveridge in the chest.

Johnstone placed the blame directly on race organizers, the AGPC, by stating, "In this case, those agencies responsible for organizing the 2001 Australian Formula One Grand Prix motor race failed to satisfactorily manage the risk to marshals created by gaps in the debris fence".

The report goes on to say, "The AGPC (Australian Grand Prix Corporation), through its chief executive officer, was aware of the gap issue. The eventual solution was not only obvious, it was practical, and should have been in place before the racing incident at Albert Park. "

Finally, Johnstone concluded, "Mr. Beveridge's death was avoidable."

Despite the report, AGPC chairman Ron Walker confirmed Friday that the 2002 event would go on as planned, but the final decision still belongs to the FIA, who have not commented yet.

The 2002 Australian Grand Prix, scheduled for March 3, is still provisional on the FIA calendar, but it is expected to be confirmed shortly. The AGPC, since the accident, has been proactive in improving safety around the Albert Park circuit, and has announced plans to redesign the debris fencing, as well as make other safety improvements before the 2002 event.

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