Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Proactive change to drinking attitudes needed - doctor

The quad bike came to rest down a ditch in Hawkes Bay. Photo / APN
The quad bike came to rest down a ditch in Hawkes Bay. Photo / APN

A doctor on duty at Hawkes Bay Hospital when a group of injured people were brought in after a quad bike crash says innocent people will continue to be hurt if there is not a change in attitudes towards alcohol.

Ashlee Petrowski, 6, remains in a critical condition with head injuries at Auckland's Starship Hospital after the quad bike she was on with four drunk adults veered down a bank late on Wednesday night.

The crash happened while the group was driving along a Waimarama Beach road, south of Hastings, about 11.20pm.

The adults, including her father and stepmother, all suffered broken bones. They are in a stable condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Dr Scott Boyes, an emergency consultant at Hawkes Bay Hospital, was on duty when the group was brought in.

"It really brings home some of the concerns we have around the culture of drinking and what is acceptable. It doesn't seem right, it's very sad," he told Radio New Zealand today.

He said that over the holiday period there had been a record number of patients admitted with injuries related to drunkeness.

"What we would really like is to be more proactive in changing our attitudes to drinking and what we see is responsible drinking.

"The quad bike accident illustrates that to us - what is responsible? Is this acceptable behaviour? And really making those decisions before we get into scenarios where alcohol is involved.

"Because we've all made bad decisions when we were drinking too much."

It was particularly bad when innocent victims, like Ashlee, were involved, he said.

"It always seems to be the innocent people who get hurt and it's hard not to feel angry or frustrated but again, we just want to try to change what we think is acceptable attitudes (around drinking) and really as a community we need to think how we drink and what we think is right and take more responsibility for what might happen."

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said police were yet to determine who was driving the quad bike when it rolled but the crash was the result of "the stupidity of the adults", who were all aged between 20 and 28.

"When they were admitted to hospital last night we took blood samples of all four adults for analysis, and there may well be charges pending as a result," Mr Shadbolt said.

He condemned the actions of the adults, who "should have known better".

"The dangers of quad bikes are well known and documented, but to have it overloaded and be driving under the influence of alcohol; it's an act of stupidity and negligence.

"It was certainly a chaotic scene and the child was obviously distressed; as my staff relayed the situation to me you could hear her screaming and crying in the background. These are things that we have to attend, but they are infinitely avoidable."

Quad-bike deaths in 2012

December: Rowan Cai Parker, 16, died on an Otago farm.

November: Lance Nelson Renall, 64, died on his Hawkes Bay farm.

October: Chelsea Callaghan, of Melbourne, died after an accident near Onewhero.

October: Shane William White, 10, died in Wairarapa.

July: US man Jeffrey Robert Frum, 21, died at Hahei.

March: Luke James Randle, 20, died at Foxton Beach.

January: East Coast golfing identity Peter Rouse, 74, died on a Tokomaru Bay farm.


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