Cow crash response angers

By Mike Barrington


Paul McKay is upset police did not turn up when he called 111 three times after his wife's car hit a cow on the Whangarei-Ngunguru Rd.

Janette McKay was driving home to Tutukaka from the city with their 16-year-old daughter Rachel at 9.15pm on Thursday last week when the collision occurred.

The 1995 Toyota Corolla was written-off when the cow - one of several on the road - came over the bonnet and its head pushed the shattered windscreen to within centimetres of Rachel's face before the animal got up and ran off.

Although neither mother nor daughter were seriously hurt, Mrs McKay said she could not stop asking herself: "What if I had killed her?"

Several motorists stopped to help the stricken pair, with some of them herding at least six cows off the highway into a roadside paddock. Mrs McKay phoned her husband, Paul, who set off to fetch his family towing a large trailer to carry the disabled Corolla.

Before he left home he called 111 and told police communications in Auckland the little he knew about the crash and told them he didn't know if anyone had been hurt.

When he later called to ask if emergency services were on their way, he said police had told him they were "a bit tied up". In a third called he said he'd collected his wife, daughter and car, the road was clear of cattle and he would report the accident to police in Whangarei on Saturday.

Mr McKay's indignation over what he perceived as police ignoring the crash increased when local firefighter friends said they should have been called out to deal with the cattle, which he heard had been back on the road later that night. He said an agreement had been reached with the cows' owner to replace the damaged Corolla.

Whangarei police Sergeant Stephanie Hudson told the Advocate police notes of Mr McKay's 111 calls first recorded "the cow had left the area" and after his second call said: "The informant has a trailer for the vehicle".

After his final call it was recorded police could stand down as "the informant is to tow the vehicle home and report to the station."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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