Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Former cop had concerns about fatal road

Former investigator says he crashed on part of highway that claimed young mother

The young mum was killed on the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway on Monday morning. Photo / Richard Robinson
The young mum was killed on the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway on Monday morning. Photo / Richard Robinson

A former top police crash investigator was involved in a head-on smash in almost the exact spot where mother-of-four Lysette Brown was killed on Monday — and says the road is terrible.

Stu Kearns, former head of the Waitemata Serious Crash Unit, spent 28 years working as a road cop and attended more than 1,000 crashes in that time.

He now lives in West Auckland, near the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway where Ms Brown was killed in a crash on Monday morning.

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The 27-year-old was believed to have been driving to set up her mobile coffee stand for the day when her black Toyota and a white Izuzu truck collided.

Mr Kearns and his partner and small child were in a crash in September just metres from where Ms Brown died.

A car travelling in the opposite direction pulled out to pass the car in front and did not see Mr Kearns' SUV. They collided head-on but all survived.

"We were almost taken out in the exact same location [as Ms Brown]," he said.

"We're always very cautious on the piece of road after being hit. We were just lucky that we weren't killed.

Mr Kearns drove along the same stretch of road just before 7am on Monday. His partner tried to get through half an hour later but was stopped by the road block that had been put up after the fatal crash at 7.22am.

He said the "terrible" road was often slippery and users were "dicing with death" if they weren't careful.

Mr Kearns raised concerns with the council six months ago and, after Ms Brown's death, he spoke to Rodney Ward councillor Penny Webster about what improvements he thought needed to be made to prevent further crashes. He felt the maintenance of the road was not up to scratch, and Auckland Transport needed to do much more work to make it safe.

Auckland Transport said the section of road was resurfaced in 2007 and was expected to last for 15 years.

The crash site was a regional arterial route and 6,000 vehicles passed through it each day.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan assured the public everything was being done to make sure the road was as safe as possible.

"Temporary warning signage was put up on Tuesday in the vicinity of where the crash occurred, warning the road could be slippery.

"All sites where there is a fatal crash undergo a crash investigation to identify any measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence."

Aside from that incident, he said there had been just one minor injury crash recorded on the particular stretch of road in the last five years.

Mrs Webster acknowledged Mr Kearns' concerns and said she too worried about the state of many of the roads in the Rodney area.

- NZ Herald

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