Friends remember scooter crash victim

By Rachel Thomas

There's an empty stool in the bar at Mount Maunganui RSA where Alan Kappely used to sit.
"This is his seat, just here," says Ron Curry, as he points at the spot beside him.
Mr Curry and fellow RSA member Ian Robertson knew Mr Kappely for 15 years and have a drink in his honour.
"Is it Alan's shout?" Mr Curry asks, before raising his beer.
The pair yesterday remembered Mr Kappely, who died after a routine police traffic stop went horribly wrong in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.
Mr Kappely, 83, was riding a scooter when he smashed into the back of a stationary police car on broken yellow lines. The officer in the patrol car had just stopped a ute on the corner of Maunganui Rd and Tweed St for speeding.
Mount Maunganui RSA manager Peter Moss said residents were still in shock after the tragic accident but were supporting one another.
"Everybody in the village has pulled in to support Joy, his wife."
Mr Kappely had a sister and brother-in-law in Tauranga, who visited the RSA village yesterday to support his widow.
Caretaker Eddie Pinkerton recalled Mr Kappely helping him in the garden, until old age stopped him.
"We used to have barbecues and he would always bring out his tapes and play his music," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.
It is understood he had a daughter in Australia.
Mr Kappely's will stated he did not want a funeral service, so a private burial is to be held next week.
The tragedy has raised the issue of motorcycle safety.
Motorcycle Safety Consultant CEO Allan Kirk believed the accident was the result of "target fixation" which is wherever a motorcyclist looks, his bike will follow.


"He fixes his eyes on something he wants to avoid, but then he goes where he fixes his eyes."
Mr Kirk said this was a common problem for motorcyclists, but they go through licensing before they can ride.
"This crash points out the problem that people can get on scooters without testing."
"There's a gap in the licensing system."
A standard car licence is all that's required to legally ride a scooter. Even a class-one learner licence allows operation of a moped of 50cc or less, with a maximum speed of 50km/h.
Mr Kirk said although scooters may look easy to ride, driving them requires different skills than a car.
"Scooter riders get no instruction but a powered two wheeler is the most difficult vehicle to drive.
"You don't normally fall off a car."
Mr Kirk said there was a boom in scooter riders since petrol prices rose.
Director of the Police Association for the region Wayne Aberhart said the officer involved in the incident would be offered counselling.
"Nothing can prepare you for that. He wouldn't have thought about it much until he got home that night," Mr Aberhart said.
"You don't go cold, you deal with it by looking to others for reassurance."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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