Driver who lost leg: I don't blame police

By Hamish McNeilly

Chris Campbell, who has received an apology from the police, is wanting to get on with his life. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
Chris Campbell, who has received an apology from the police, is wanting to get on with his life. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

A Dunedin driver who lost his leg after his truck collided with a cow holds no grudge against police.

Yesterday, police issued a statement accepting the findings of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

The findings prompted an apology to Chris Campbell, after police failed to correctly follow up reports of wandering stock.

The 47-year-old remembers nothing of the early morning crash which cost him his right leg on June 1, 2012.

"That is not a bad thing," he said from his Brockville home yesterday.

He was driving his truck laden with fresh fruit and vegetables on the Clinton-Mataura Rd when the late-model Kenworth collided with a Highland cow.

Passing motorists found the unconscious driver "bleeding out" and emergency services, including a helicopter, were called to the scene at 3.32am.

Mr Campbell, who turned down an official handwritten apology from police and was not seeking compensation, said "to me, the matter is over and done with".

As well as having his leg amputated, Mr Campbell received head injuries, underwent seven major operations and had 23 blood transfusions and faces a lifetime of rehabilitation, but said he bore no grudge against police.

"I still don't blame the police. At the end of the day it is the cocky who is at fault," Mr Campbell said. He has never heard from the farmer.

"If he wanted to, he would have contacted me."

The IPCA reported a Police Southern Communications Centre communicator failed to record key information - including the rural address property identification (Rapid) number - after an earlier emergency call the morning of the accident. That meant police were sent to a general area to look for wandering stock.

Crucially, this placed them 3.5km short of the Rapid number, later found to be 750m short of the crash site.

No wandering stock were found.

A second call to the same communicator resulted in him telling the caller police were aware of the incident.

He failed to create a new event which would have resulted in the dispatcher alerting police again.

IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers found the communicator "failed to record pertinent information regarding location" and "failed to record the new information as required by the police call-taking instructions".

Southern Communications Centre manager Inspector Kieren Kortegast said police had met Mr Campbell and apologised to him about the failure.

"The staff member in question missed the opportunity to prevent a collision that has caused serious injury to a member of the public," Insp Kortegast said.

It was found the communicator had not received Rapid number training, which he had since attended. He was the subject of disciplinary action.

Since the accident, Mr Campbell had been overwhelmed by the care from medical staff at Dunedin Hospital and support from ACC.

While his truck-driving days were over, he hoped to find work as a dispatcher.

And today, after "four months bouncing around on one leg", he takes possession of his new artificial leg.

- Otago Daily Times

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