Honeymooner still in critical condition

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Kenneth Stithem and Kirsten Steinke. Photo / supplied
Kenneth Stithem and Kirsten Steinke. Photo / supplied

The American honeymooner involved in a horror crash that killed her young husband remains in a critical condition in hospital with her parents at her side.

Gary and Jean Stithem and Jim and Gerri Steinke, from Denver, Colorado, arrived in New Zealand yesterday morning and drove straight to Waikato Hospital.

Kallan Stithem, 31, died at the scene of Thursday's crash at the Waitomo Caves intersection at State Highway 3.

His wife, Kirsten Steinke, remained in a critical condition in the hospital's intensive care unit today.

She has been in a critical condition since the crash.

In a statement released yesterday, their parents thanked all those who responded so quickly at the scene including fire fighters, two midwives, emergency service personnel and the Westpac Waikato air ambulance.

"We also want to express our heartfelt appreciation for the generous offers of assistance from New Zealanders who understand our sorrow and tragedy.

The enormous generosity of so many people of this nation has touched our hearts.

"Thank you all,'' the couples said.

Mr Stithem and Ms Steinke were married just over a week ago in the US and were honeymooning at the Kiwi Paka Hostel in Waitomo when the crash happened.

Sergeant Warren Shaw said the couple's car failed to give way at the intersection with the main road.

A truck T-boned the driver's side of the vehicle, killing Mr Stithem.

It was the second fatal accident at the intersection this year and has residents calling for urgent action, despite already extensive remedial works at the site.

Canadian tourist Michele Smith died when a campervan, driven by her husband, collided with a truck at the same spot in February.

NZTA state highway manager Kaye Clark said the agency planned to increase the road width adjacent to Mangarino Rd on SH3, and install a right-turn bay.

- NZ Herald

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