Hit-and-run road death investigated

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Police are still investigating a crash in which an apparent hitch-hiker died in Central Hawke's Bay early on Thursday morning.

The driver left the scene before the crash on State Highway 2 just north of Te Aute College was discovered about 3.20am.

No charges have yet been laid.

Police said on Thursday night they had spoken with two people about the crash, in which a grey Ford Fairmont overturned. It was found upside-down on the road with a 61-year-old man still in a passenger's seat. He died at the scene.

Police also said on Thursday they wanted to hear from anyone who had seen a white Toyota station wagon between Paki Paki and Napier during the morning of the crash.

No evidence of braking related to the crash was found, indicating it was possible the driver of the car may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Meanwhile, Tukituki MP Craig Foss is concerned about the number of road deaths in Hawke's Bay this year.

The Ministry of Transport reports there have been seven deaths on roads in the area this year, one more than last year's total of six to March 12. There were three road deaths in 2014, three in 2013, and eight in 2012, which included four in one crash on a Mohaka Hill section of SH2 north of Raupunga.

Mr Foss said: "Hawke's Bay's road toll, like the national one, is tracking far too high, with seven fatalities in just 10 weeks. It's very concerning to think what that number could be in nine-and-a-half-months' time.

"We need to remind ourselves that behind every one of these numbers is a person, a family, and a community," he said.

"Of the 86 fatalities - from 75 crashes - in Hawke's Bay between 2011 and 2015, 17 were not wearing a seat belt or helmet, and 55 involved alcohol, speed, distraction or fatigue."

"These figures are a stark reminder that we have road rules for a reason, we have seat-belt and drink-driving rules for a reason. Road safety is the responsibility of every single road user - drivers, passengers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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