German backpacker Jennifer Kohl, 27, was crushed to death by a lawnmower on an avocado farm after sneaking off to have sex with her boyfriend Paul Tunik on quiet corner of property

Jennifer Kohl, 27, died in December 2017

A German backpacker who died after a lawnmower crash at a Queensland avocado farm was on a ‘romantic outing’ outside designated work areas, a coroner has found.

Jennifer Kohl, 27, arrived in Australia in February 2017 on a working holiday with her 27-year-old boyfriend Paul Tunik.

The couple of seven years had been working on the farm at Tamborine Mountain, about 20km north-west of the Gold Coast, for two or three weeks prior to Ms Kohl’s death in December 2017.

Coroner Carol Lee handed down her findings on Friday at Southport Magistrates Court following a two-day inquest in May 2023.

Ms Lee found the farm could not have foreseen that Mr Tunik would depart from instructions and drive the mower through an steep and overgrown area.

‘Mr Tunik and Ms Kohl had completed (work) on the day of the accident and had engaged in sexual intercourse in a disused and out of sight part of the property, on a joyride pretending the property was theirs,’ Ms Lee said.

At 8am on December 8, 2017, the couple started work on the 10-acre farm and were tasked with picking four crates of avocados over a couple of hours.

The job involved driving a large John Deere X595 four-wheel-drive ride-on mower with a homemade trailer to the orchard, loading it and driving back to the packing shed.

Ms Kohl's mother travelled to Australia for her daughter's inquest

Ms Kohl’s mother travelled to Australia for her daughter’s inquest

At about 11am that morning Mr Tunik was driving the mower while Ms Kohl was sitting on the wheel arch.

Mr Tunik drove the mower down a steep hill and to slow down he turned sharply, causing it to roll and entrap Ms Kohl underneath, the coroner found.

After regaining consciousness, Mr Tunik unsuccessfully tried to move the mower off Ms Kohl and called triple-zero at 11:20am.

There was a delay in emergency services attending the scene in part due to Mr Tunik’s limited English.

Mr Tunik flagged down passing cars but even with the help of three bystanders Ms Kohl could not be freed.

Paramedics arrived at 11.52am and extracted Ms Kohl but she could not be revived.

An autopsy later showed Ms Kohl died from traumatic asphyxia.

Ms Lee on Friday found the farm’s co-owners, Kathryn Singleton and Kenneth Jacobi, had provided sufficient instruction and supervision of two adults for using the mower and trailer in designated areas.

Mr Tunik had given evidence about the ‘romantic nature of the outing’ and Ms Lee said the couple did not have any fruit picking equipment with them at the time of the crash.

Ms Lee recommended that the Department of Home Affairs set up a ‘one stop shop’ website for holiday workers to advise them of workplace health and safety as well as their statutory rights in Australia.

Ms Lee expressed her sincere condolences to Ms Kohl’s family over the tragic accident.

‘Her death has had an impact on many people, in particular her mother who travelled from Germany for the inquest,’ Ms Lee said.