Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Two killed on quad bikes

Farmer on steep block and hunter in forest added to big list of fatality

Eric Schollum
Eric Schollum

A veteran farmer and a hunter have died in separate quad bike accidents. Eric Bernard Schollum, 72, of Puhoi was killed on Thursday while working on his steep sheep and beef block on Schollum Access Rd south of Warkworth.

And yesterday, a 64-year-old man, whom police have not yet named, died on a forestry track in Wairarapa while hunting with two friends.

Schollum's younger brother Pat said Thursday was the worst day of his life.

"I think he was riding along the road and he may have looked up at his dogs or something and the front wheel has gone slightly up the bank. It rolled over half a turn, threw him off face down and landed on top of him," he said.

The accident would have happened in the early afternoon and Eric was found in the early evening. He had spent a lifetime on the land and was experienced with bikes.

But Pat said: "No bike's really safe, is it? On hills, you've got to have your wits about you.

It would only have taken a split second. It was unlucky."

Eric, who was born deaf and learned to lip-read, is survived by two brothers who farm on neighbouring blocks, Pat and Brian, along with sister Helen and another brother Des.

His funeral will be on Wednesday in Puhoi Catholic Church.

In Wairarapa, Sergeant Paul Lee said the 64-year-old Carterton man who died yesterday had been out hunting with friends in a forestry block near Tinui.

The man had a known medical condition and appeared to have suffered a sudden onset of "discomfort" when he came off the bike.

"CPR was commenced by his companions but with the isolation of the scene it took about one hour for emergency medical staff to arrive."

An investigation was ongoing.

Yesterday, Federated Farmers officials said they were sad to hear of Schollum's death and members' thoughts were with his family and friends.

"What we would like to reinforce at this time is that when using quad bikes you must look after yourself, make sure you have had sufficient breaks and food, question whether a quad bike is the appropriate vehicle for the job and remain alert at all times when operating the vehicle."

Statistics showed that quad bike accidents were happening in the late afternoon, when the end of the day was in sight and drivers were weary.

The federation recommended that farmers ensured their bikes were in good working order, and wear helmets when appropriate.

This year, the Chief Coroner investigated a string of quad bike deaths, hearing the cases together to determine if there were any common factors that could be used to improve quad bike safety.

There were 37 quad bike deaths between March 2008 and March this year.

Annual quad bike toll

5 deaths
850 injuries

The number of annual deaths has risen sharply in recent years, prompting new safety guidelines. These say:

• Quad bike riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job.
• Riders should choose the right vehicle for the job.
• Riders should always wear a helmet.
• Children should not ride adult quad bikes.

- Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment


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