Byline: Jeremy Calvert
A MARSHAL killed at the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix was instructed to stand in the spot where he was dealt a lethal blow by an airborne tyre.
A Melbourne Coroner's Court inquest began yesterday into the death of Graham Beveridge and heard that the ``experienced and competent marshal'' was instructed to stand at an opening in a safety fence.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Jim Kennan, SC, said evidence would show Mr Beveridge was at the opening to ensure no spectators gained access to the track.
``He was instructed to take up a position near an opening in the fence . . . he was carrying out his job as instructed,'' Mr Kennan told the court.
The Queenslander, 52, died on Sunday, March 4, on the fifth lap of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
On the third turn at Albert Park, Jacques Villeneuve slammed his BAR-Honda into the rear of Ralf Schumacher's Williams at more than 240km/h. Both drivers have been cleared of any blame.
Villeneuve's car went into an airborne spin and smashed into the concrete wall and debris fence on the outer side of the track.
The right rear wheel of Villeneuve's car jammed sideways into the 40cm gap in the debris fence.
The court heard the wheel hit Mr Beveridge in the chest at between 145 and 175km/h, causing his heart to rupture.
He was killed on impact and all attempts to revive him failed.
But Mr Kennan said the tragic death of a man who lived for motor sport may have saved the lives of others.
``Had Mr Beveridge not absorbed the impact, one or more spectators may have been killed.''
The court heard that several spectators were injured by flying debris including a 13-year-old boy who was knocked to the ground by what he thought was a wheel.
Mr Kennan said he would raise issues during the inquest over the height and design of safety fences, the positioning of marshals and spectators and the design of safety tethers used to stop wheels coming loose from formula one cars.
Another issue was the fact an ambulance was not allowed to travel by the shortest route to aid Mr Beveridge.
Mr Kennan said the Albert Park fences at 2.5m were only half the height of those used at the British Grand Prix circuit -- where airborne formula one cars had cleared the fence twice.