Pedestrian killed on Oamaru footpath named

By Rebecca Ryan, Rhys Chamberlain

The pedestrian who died in Oamaru has been named as Gerald James Cowley, of Waikouaiti. Photo /  Daniel Birchfield
The pedestrian who died in Oamaru has been named as Gerald James Cowley, of Waikouaiti. Photo / Daniel Birchfield

Police have named the man killed in a crash in Oamaru. He was 67-year-old Gerald James Cowley, of Waikouaiti.

Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses as they investigate the incident.

Bystanders have described as "horrendous'' the scene after an elderly driver's car mounted a kerb at speed and hit three pedestrians before colliding with two other cars on the corner of Thames and Eden Sts late yesterday morning.

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A 70-year-old woman suffered multiple injuries and was transported to Dunedin Hospital, while a 13-year-old girl was treated at Oamaru Hospital. All three drivers involved in the crash were also taken to Oamaru Hospital.

Sergeant Craig Sew Hoy, of Oamaru, thanked all those who had assisted at the scene yesterday.

''Obviously it was quite chaotic for the town, as well as the people involved,'' Sgt Sew Hoy said.

Yesterday, Nigel Newman, of Christchurch, described seeing a light green Honda Jazz driven by an elderly man hit two pedestrians at speed.

Mr Newman, who was on the footpath at the time, said the man had driven from the public toilets on Eden St.

"He's come up off the road, through the footpath and hit a lady and another gentleman as well, carried on through the footpath and taken out a couple of cars which has stopped him I guess,'' Mr Newman said.

"By the time he hit the footpath he was flying - he must have had a turn I guess.''

Sgt Sew Hoy said police would like to hear from any one else who was hit by the Honda Jazz and did not report it at the time.

''Also, any body who has seen the vehicle leading up to, or during, [the crash]. Especially before the crash, or as it's happened.''

Another witness, a local businessman, described hearing loud bangs and screams as the vehicle hit pedestrians and then collided with the two vehicles.

A bystander who did not want to be named said the street was "packed'' at the time of the crash near the town's main bus stop.

A number of businesses, cafes and shops are located at the intersection.

"There were people everywhere ... it was pretty horrific. It's a wonder there wasn't more [people hit],'' the bystander said. "It's the most horrendous thing I've ever seen.''

After swerving back on to the road, the speeding vehicle continued through the lights, and collided with a dark grey and lime-green Mazda2 travelling south on Thames Highway and then a northbound white Toyota Camry.

Oamaru caregiver Wendy Fisher said the Honda Jazz appeared out of nowhere and slammed into her Mazda2.

"I was driving south on a green light, minding my own business ... and the next minute 'boof' it was all over red rover,'' Ms Fisher said.

"I was absolutely gobsmacked and he just started pushing me into the other lane.''

She described the scene as "just carnage'' and believed the male driver had been seriously injured.

"All I can say is it just happened so fast,'' she said.

"I got out [of the car] and, being a carer, I was looking around for anywhere I could go to help, but a couple of ladies came over and told me to stay put.''

Her vehicle bore the brunt of the impact and she believed, had it not, the Honda Jazz would have crashed straight into the driver's side of the Toyota Camry.

"I personally think, if I didn't get the brunt of it, the lady in the white car that was going north, she wouldn't be here today. I suppose at the end of the day, I've probably saved a life, maybe.''

After returning home with her partner, she started complaining of headaches and back pain and was taken to Oamaru Hospital to be checked.

Sgt Sew Hoy today said the thoughts of police were with the family of the deceased man and all of those injured in yesterday's crash.

- Additional reporting by Rhys Chamberlain and Daniel Birchfield of the Oamaru Mail

- Otago Daily Times

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