A prominent lawyer Melbourne barrister, Ross Ray QC, was killed recently in an accident that was both ironic and tragic in its facts. Ray was the lead litigator fighting a requirement of safety rollbars on “quad bike” or off-road vehicles. He was killed on his farm in Mansfield when his quad bike rolled over and pinned him due to the lack of a rollbar.
In 2005, Ray appeared in court on behalf of quad bike maker Honda to dismiss a coroner from an inquest into deaths in Victoria and Tasmania involving quad bikes. He sought unsuccessfully to disqualify Victorian coroner Graeme Johnstone from the inquest after the coroner expressed a view that an absence of roll-over bars on quad bikes led to the deaths of two people. Ray argued that this view was evidence of bias, but the court disagreed.
Quad bikes accounted for almost 40 per cent of all farm deaths in Australia last year. Quad bikes have been the leading cause of death on farms for the past five years with more than 200 people killed while riding the bikes since 2001.