Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

13-month-old killed in driveway

The baby was hit by a car outside her home in Kaitaia. Photo / Thinkstock
The baby was hit by a car outside her home in Kaitaia. Photo / Thinkstock

A mother clutched her 13-month-old son and screamed, "My baby, my baby", after the child was killed by a car in a driveway accident.

Paramedics could not revive the toddler when they reached the distraught woman outside her home on Jamieson Rd, Kaitaia, about 5.30pm yesterday.

Neighbour Sally Notton was watching television in her lounge when she heard screaming drown out the sound of children playing on the street.

When she went onto the street she saw the mother, whom she knows, cradling the body of her son and screaming hysterically.

"At first I thought it must have been one of [the children], being silly and what not. But then when I was going towards the place the kids were yelling, 'baby got run over'.

"[The mother] was holding the baby, she wouldn't let the baby go ... She was just there screaming, saying, 'My baby, my baby'."

Mrs Notton rushed inside and told her daughter to phone for an ambulance, and when she went back to the street the mother - still holding her son - was surrounded by other neighbours.

"I just saw [the mother] sitting down by the front left-hand side of the wheel, holding her baby. So somebody rushed and got a blanket to put over baby."

Mrs Notton said she thought the mother had been saying goodbye to a visiting friend around the time of the accident, but was unsure of who might have been driving.

Police arrived soon after an ambulance and cordoned off the scene of the accident.

The boy's father could not be reached by phone, so a neighbour went to get him from his work.

The boy was the youngest of the family's three children, and the mother would often walk him and another sibling around the street after dropping her daughter at school.

Mrs Notton said she was still in shock. "I just feel so sorry for them. It was such an awful accident."

The police said no further details would be released until next of kin were informed, but reminded the public of the dangers of moving vehicles when young children are nearby.

A Safekids campaign was launched last November in a bid to reduce death and injury to children on driveways and director Ann Weaver said people were listening to the message, as yesterday afternoon's death came after a fall in the number of injuries or fatalities over the holiday season.

"It's very sad to hear this has happened. Everyone should be very careful on their properties and homes - children and vehicles don't mix," Ms Weaver said.

Every two weeks, a child is admitted to hospital with serious injuries received from a vehicle on a private driveway in New Zealand - and five or six are killed each year.

Yesterday's tragedy was the second driveway fatality this year. On January 24, David Taliai, 3, was killed when he was hit on a driveway in Manurewa, although that was not a residential driveway but alongside a block of shops.

The Safekids website says the typical profile of children injured in driveway incidents is that they are toddlers aged about 2 years old. The driver is usually a close family member.

Safety tips

Always "count the kids" before you manoeuvre a vehicle, and make sure they are belted safely in the car or are in a safe place away from the car.

* Slow down on driveways.
* Know how big the blind area is around your vehicle; your line of sight may be less than you think.
* Supervise children but also have other ways to keep them safe, such as a fenced-off play area or a childproof doorway gate.
* Teach children to be cautious around vehicles.
* Encourage visitors to park on the road outside of your house instead of in the driveway.
Source: Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee.

- additional reporting Andrew Koubaridis

- NZ Herald

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