Cyclist, 13, wasn't wearing helmet

By Andrew Koubaridis

Paige Lagahetau was about to start high school at Edgewater College. Photo / Supplied
Paige Lagahetau was about to start high school at Edgewater College. Photo / Supplied

A 13-year-old girl is dead after she fell off her bike and her head hit the concrete. She wasn't wearing a helmet.

Paige Lagahetau was playing on a steep rise outside a relative's home in Papakura when the accident happened in full view of her siblings - who only moments earlier warned her against doing anything risky.

"Children on a bike test the limit and see how far they are going to go," relative Dean Peni said. "Unfortunately, she hopped on a bike and throughout the day decided she was going to give this a go."

Paige's death comes as a child safety group is about to launch a campaign to reduce New Zealand's growing injury rate for children not wearing bike helmets.

Safekids will this year ask children aged 9 and older why they aren't wearing helmets, because director Ann Weaver says efforts so far "aren't getting through".

On Monday, as Paige - who owned a helmet but may not have had it with her - took her bike to the top of the rise, her brother Christopher, 15, told her he knew "what you're going to do" and warned her not to.

"He yelled out, 'Paige stop', and she zoomed past him and was giggling," said Mr Peni. "Not long had she past him, they saw she lost control - by that time she had picked up a lot of speed - and I think panic set in."

Paige's parents, Dez and Rozanne, arrived at hospital unaware how badly hurt she was. Doctors told them there was no chance she would survive, and she died within hours.

"They were right with her 'till the last breath," Mr Peni said. "We were in the room with her ... holding her hand, comforting her, and she passed away in the arms of her parents."

Mr Peni said Paige was excited about starting at Edgewater College in Pakuranga and already had her school books. "Her aunty was helping her name them and design title pages. Her mum and dad had her uniform all ready to go."

As the family prepare to farewell her tomorrow, they have spoken about the dangers of not wearing a helmet. Mr Peni said Paige did have one and had been told to always wear it. "She knew the rules, her parents explained to her many times." It was because of this children who visited to grieve for Paige had been spoken to about how important it is.

"It's an opportunity to speak to them about safety and how fragile life is. We walk through life thinking that's going to happen to someone else not me. The lesson to everyone is these rules and regulations are put in place not to make life difficult but so you can live life and be with your family."

Counties Manukau road policing manager Inspector Julia Lynch urged motorists and families to take care on the roads, especially as the start of school approached.

Ms Weaver said it was clear from the statistics that more children 10 and older were getting injured, with the 10-14 age group making up a staggering 57 per cent of all cyclist hospital admissions.

Safekids says that an average of 487 young cyclists a year are admitted to hospital. Between 2003-2007, 12 children died from cycling injuries.

Protect your child

Safekids recommends:

• Bike helmets

• Bike skills training

• Bright coloured clothing, lights and reflectors help make children more visible

• Plan with your children the route they should take to school.

For more info: safekids.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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