Survivor fights cost of accident clean up

By ROGER MORONEY

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A Hastings woman is vowing to fight a bill of $1400 from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for the cost of closing and cleaning up a road after a near-fatal crash involving her teenage daughter.

Shona Goodfellow said getting the news that her daughter had been injured after she failed to take a right-hand bend on Links Rd and crashing into a ditch in June last year was bad enough.

But, she said, getting a bill "only three weeks later while she was still in hospital" stunned her.

Mrs Goodfellow said since the "pay up" demand was issued, conversations had become "a bit sour".

Her daughter, Romy Goodfellow, 19, had just returned to morning studies in a wine science degree course at the EIT yesterday and it had been tiring to the point where she needed bed rest for the afternoon.

The long-term prognosis for a full recovery from the head and neck injuries she received could be up to another two years.

"It's been tough, very tough and she's getting through it ...

but doesn't need this hanging over us," Mrs Goodfellow said. "I put it aside at the time," she said, saying that with so much going on with her critically injured daughter it was not something she completely understood.

The NZTA had sent her an account of $1366.29 to cover the costs incurred by contractors called to the crash scene.

A week later the agency sent a reminder.

"It was right out of the blue. I've never heard anything like it before. I've spoken to a lot of people and they'd never come across it either," Mrs Goodfellow said.

The account was for calling in five contract staff to close Links Rd off and put up temporary signage while the accident scene was attended to and cleared.

"They could have blocked it off with road cones," she said.

Part of the account was $300 for call-out charges.

"That's basically a phone call; an expensive call," Mrs Goodfellow said.

She had no problems with the fact her daughter had caused the crash, but questioned the need to send out an account for the costs.

Such accounts had only recently come to the fore, with two sent out in the Bay during the past six months.

"I heard that someone got a similar bill to this about 30 years ago. No one has used it since then - until now," Mrs Goodfellow said.

"I pay my taxes and car registration ... surely that pays for this."

She had contacted her insurance company regarding the account and was told the issuing of such an account was an uncommon practice.

NZTA general manager highway and network operations Colin Crampton said the cost of damages and delays needed to be recovered.

"So we have two choices - we can either seek to recover the costs from the individuals responsible for causing the damage, or we can charge all road users and taxpayers for the damage," Mr Crampton said.

"This is the same principle which applies when a driver at fault in a crash causes damage to any property - they, or their insurance companies, are liable for the costs of repair."

He said NZTA regional offices always applied discretion and looked at cases' individual merit.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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