Byline: TOBY HEMMING
A witness to the death of a track marshal at this year's Australian Grand Prix has told a court she saw the father of three "fly in the air" after being hit by a racing car wheel thrown up in a high-speed crash. Marcia Mullavey, who attended the March 4 event with her family, yesterday told the Victorian Coroner's Court she first noticed the crash when she was "sprayed" with rubber from the tyre of a formula one car driven by Jacques Villeneuve. Moments later, Ms Mullavey said in a statement read to the court: "I looked to my right and saw one of the marshals fly in the air ... He was then thrown backwards and rotated clockwise." She said the marshal, Graham Beveridge, 52, came to rest, "lying on his back with his eyes open", just metres from where she was standing. Mr Beveridge died of a ruptured heart after the wheel struck him in the chest. The wheel had flown through a gap in the trackside 3.5-metre-high safety barrier, or "debris fence", at turn three of the Albert Park circuit. The inquest began on Monday. Another witness, Jennifer Jacob, told the court she saw "a black flash coming towards me" immediately after the crash and then felt a "jagged piece of black rubber" as it struck her on the arm. Ms Jacob said the debris came at spectators through holes in the "debris fence", over the structure and through the "access hole" through which the tyre from Villeneuve's car flew. Later in the day, Timothy Schenken, from the Confederation of Australian Motorsport, said that after a recommendation in 1998 by motor racing's international governing body, some debris fences at Albert Park were increased in height by one metre, in time for the 1999 event. He said that after each Australian Grand Prix CAMS also reviewed "incidents and situations". But Mr Schenken said he did not know if a formal "risk analysis" had been done to assess potential risks to spectators and marshals. The inquest, before State Coroner Graeme Johnstone, continues today.