Alexander Borg was airborne over a jump at a Melbourne dirt bike track when he saw 16-year-old Sebastian D’Imperio wobble and cross in front of him.
He saw the rider about 30 metres ahead of him as he rode toward the jump but didn’t see him go over it, an inquest into Sebastian’s death has been told.
Being in the air, he said there was nothing he could do once he saw Sebastian start to wobble and cross into his path, just as he was landing.
Mr Borg isn’t sure if he struck Sebastian or the boy’s bike before he cartwheeled over the top of his bike and landed in the dirt a few metres away.
Sebastian’s bike landed on top of him, his head between the petrol tank and the ground. He was wearing a full helmet compliant with Australian standards but suffered catastrophic head injuries.
Paramedics treated him at the track but he could not be saved.
He had been riding at the Frankston City Motorcycle Club for five years and advanced to the main track about a year before his death on December 16, 2017.
Pathologist Matthew Lynch said the teen’s injuries were significant and catastrophic, and similar if not identical to injuries he’d seen in other cases of people who were also wearing helmets.
While he was sure the helmet absorbed some of the extreme force, it wasn’t sufficiently protective in this case to prevent his injuries.
He said there were three possible contributors to the injuries including Sebastian’s head coming into contact with the ground when he came off his bike, the bike coming into contact with his head after he hit the ground, or a knock to the head by the rider that followed – Mr Borg.
“It might seem more like his bike landing on his head or someone else’s bike subsequently landing on his head is more likely to cause this type of injury but that’s not evidentiary based,” he said.
Coroner Paresa Spanos will hear from 16 witnesses during a week-long inquest into Sebastian’s death.
She saw a safety video required to be watched by all riders as part of their membership at the track, which spoke about the importance of riders staying on their line – following the same path around other riders to ensure they don’t cross over.
The video, part of an induction required for all riders after an earlier fatality at the track, described crossing someone else’s line as “unforgivable”.
“Riding into someone else’s line could cause serious injury and ruin a potentially wicked cool jump,” the video said.
Mr Borg told the inquest Sebastian had been on the far left side of the track and he was coming up from behind on the far right side.
It wasn’t until he was in the air that he saw Sebastian cross to the right.
“Once you’re airborne you’re on your own really until you land,” he said.