Driver's claim over smash rejected

By Cherie Taylor

PILE-UP: Emergency crews cut free a driver in a December crash at Waingawa. The driver responsible argued a vehicle ahead of him hadn't pulled off the road before making a turn.
PILE-UP: Emergency crews cut free a driver in a December crash at Waingawa. The driver responsible argued a vehicle ahead of him hadn't pulled off the road before making a turn.

A driver who rear-ended a car so hard it flipped into the air and into the path of oncoming traffic on one of Wairarapa's busiest roads two days before Christmas has failed in a bid to keep his licence.

Wesley Gary Johnson, a sales representative, argued the vehicle in front of him, waiting to turn right into Norman Ave off State Highway 2 at Waingawa, should have pulled to the left of the road first.

But police say that driver was in the right.

The driver of the car Johnson hit, and the driver of the oncoming car the victim's car was flung into had to be taken to hospital. One had to be cut free from his vehicle and suffered a broken leg and eye socket.

At the time, police said 3-year-old Cooper Grant was spared serious injury because he was strapped into a car seat in the rear of the station wagon smashed into by Johnson.

Johnson pleaded guilty to careless driving causing injury at an earlier appearance, stating he was distracted by an impatient driver following him and trying to overtake him.

His lawyer, Louise Elder, said the driver of the car waiting should not have been in the middle of the road to turn right.

While her client was "extremely remorseful" for the crash and injuries the victims suffered, a "matrix of circumstances" had led to the crash from the car following distracting him to the car in front stopped and waiting to turn right, she said.

"There were a mixture of things. The car being in the middle of the busiest road in the Wairarapa to the driver behind ... if the driver had pulled to the left like many drivers do, this accident would not have happened."

However, prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said the driver of the car slammed into was legally in the right, indicating he was turning.

Johnson should have been more aware of his surroundings, he said. "He was more concerned with what was happening behind him than what was going on in front of him ... the victim was abiding by the road rules," he said.

Judge Arthur Tompkins declined the special circumstances application.

He said Johnson tried to avoid the car by swerving left, but was unable to avoid crashing, hitting the rear left of the car waiting to turn, flinging it into oncoming traffic.

Johnson was ordered to pay $750 emotional harm reparation and disqualified from driving for six months.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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