Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Memories of husband's cycling death still haunt a year on

David Armstrong was knocked from his bike and killed. Photo / APN
David Armstrong was knocked from his bike and killed. Photo / APN

Debbie Armstrong drives past the road where her husband was thrown from his cycle and died instantly to visit his grave every fortnight.

But almost a year after the horrific event that took David's life, the 47-year-old still can't bring herself to revisit the spot on the side of the road where she watched him die.

Speaking to the Herald, Mrs Armstrong told of how her life and the lives of her family changed for the worst on the morning of January 8 last year when the couple went on a 70km cycle through The Lakes subdivision in Tauranga.

A highly modified car travelling at 127km/h crossed over the cycle lane along the Pyes Pa bypass on hit Mr Armstrong, killing him instantly.

In October, the driver, Dillon Michael Bishop, 22, was sentenced to 3½ years' imprisonment for manslaughter.

Mrs Armstrong said the past year had been "horrific" and while people often criticised cyclists for their behaviour on the road, she felt a lot of them did not know the true circumstances surrounding this crash that took an innocent person's life.

"It was not your average cycle accident ...

This car wasn't registered, it wasn't warranted, it was so highly modified that it wasn't your usual person that gets hit by a car. He (Bishop) lost control - he was drifting.

"He (her husband) shouldn't be dead. This shouldn't have happened. It was just a boy racer doing stuff which he shouldn't have been doing," she said.

The husband and wife, who had been together for 30 years and married for 27, were only about 10km into their trip when the car swerved up onto the grass verge, narrowly missing Mrs Armstrong as it flew past her left side.

She had been following her husband, who was a couple of metres ahead of her in the cycle lane.

"I just turned my head because I was cycling and the car was here - on my (left) shoulder blade. I screamed and looked up and Dave was really high in the air. I didn't see him fall, I was running - I ran to him and he was already dead."

Mrs Armstrong is still haunted by the memory of watching her husband die, but she has managed to carry on.

She just had one message for the driver which she hoped would also act as a deterrent for other young drivers: "Don't ever forget what you've done.

"What gives you the right to live your life?

"You can come home, my husband will never come home. And because of your stupidity, your recklessness - what were you thinking?"

- NZ Herald

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