Cops despair at deadly roads

By Amelia Wade

Two die in grim weekend on NZ's deadliest roads. Photo / Greg Bowker
Two die in grim weekend on NZ's deadliest roads. Photo / Greg Bowker

A woman was killed yesterday when she crossed the centre line and smashed into another car in Waikato - capping off a horror weekend on the roads for a region where the toll is not following a national trend downwards.

Two men in the other car were seriously injured when the woman's BMW missed a corner on Hakarimata Rd, 5km north of Ngaruawahia, about 5pm.

Waikato police are urging drivers to pay attention after a weekend of serious crashes, and say it is "local people dying on local roads".

The driver of the other car has serious leg injuries and his passenger serious chest injuries. Both were taken to Waikato Hospital.

Yesterday afternoon's death brought Waikato's road toll for the year to 24 - matching the same time last year.

The crash was the second fatal collision in Waikato at the weekend. As well, two people were seriously hurt in other accidents.

"While the rest of the country is experiencing a historic low road toll, Waikato has twice the number of fatalities to the next closest road toll, which is the Bay of Plenty, despite having 60 fewer crashes this year," said Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley.

"This would indicate that the contributing factors that have resulted in their deaths have been more serious. That would be greater speed and greater inattention by drivers."

Motorists' attitudes needed to change, as they had after the Government's drink-driving campaign, he said.

"It's become socially unacceptable to drink and drive. It needs to start becoming publicly unacceptable to speed and not pay attention."

Mr McAlley said the same police officers had to attend fatal crashes time and time again.

In the first crash, about 1am on Saturday, passenger Shaun Nilson, 17, was thrown through the windscreen of a car in Heaphy Tce, Hamilton, and died.

Police say the 16-year-old driver had been drinking and was on a restricted licence.

The car was travelling so fast it smashed into a power pole, snapping it, then travelled 6m and became wrapped around a tree.

A memorial page to Shaun Nilson has been set up on Facebook. It includes postings from his friends and former schoolmates as well as photos of him partying.

"I have followed your years through the eyes of your grandmother, mum and dad," posted great-aunt Gayleen Wilson. "My thoughts are with family and friends going through such a sad loss to their lives. RIP."

In the second crash, about 9.30am yesterday, a mother and son in a van on their way to a soccer game tried to make a u-turn in East Mine Rd, Huntly, to return home for a pair of forgotten boots.

Their vehicle struck a motorcyclist, who was seriously injured.

An hour later, a 15-year-old passenger was seriously hurt when a car failed to give way and collided with another vehicle in State Highway 3 at Ohaupo.

"We've got the police presence out on the roads, the engineering's being done, what you're looking at now is driver attitude" said Mr McAlley. "It's local people dying on local roads."

The area has had 60 fewer crashes than at this time last year, but the number of fatalities is at the same level.

District road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said it was frustrating for police to be attending crash after crash.

"We want to get the community on side and reduce the carnage on the roads," he said.

Ngaruawahia chief fire officer Marty Kampman, who helped at both of the weekend's fatal crashes, said they took their toll.

"It gets tough, because crashes aren't what we signed up for. It's never easy going to a crash ... It's such a waste of a life."

- NZ Herald

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