Road crashes happen. There is news reporting, processing of photographs, and getting comment. And then afterwards, there's the reflection on how much mess one person can cause on our roads.

I can't even begin to guess what Cheyenne Ihaka's life was about, and his family won't thank me for attempting to analyse what he amounted to, or criticising him in this editorial. People often say, in tragedies, that they try and find some meaning after death. One that comes to mind is the educational DVD The Ripple Effect, which is doing the rounds of schools, on the "ripples" a road crash tragedy causes. It was created by the family of a teenager killed in a head-on crash.

We certainly have ripples going on here. I've seen the funeral notice for Cheyenne Ihaka and the substantial list of family members in his whanau. But I also think of the driver coming the other way, a midwife on her way home from work. That old phrase of speaking ill of the dead just doesn't cut it for me. I can't help but condemn a person who inflicts so much disaster through a culture of seemingly blind and clumsy indifference to what is right.

Police have said Ihaka was an unlicensed driver. At 16 he was inexperienced. They said alcohol was a contributing factor. The condition of his car was suspect. He crossed the centreline, on a straight open road, into the path of another car.


It basically chills me to the bone that Ihaka, in possession of a suspect car at that point in his short life, was a ticking time bomb, and he will not be the only one out there. It means that on any given evening, as we're heading home south on State Highway 2, we could be a victim of an indifferent youngster who drifts across the road like an unchecked missile.

In September, a 17-year-old unlicensed driver from Pahiatua died when he crossed the centreline and drove into a bank.

We've clearly got families in this community who are not paying attention, not caring, and endorsing a rural culture of driving cars in any condition without a licence. Those families are losing their whanau - and killing others as well.