Boy gath­ers 28k names for dead dad

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JOHN EDENS

A young lad who lost his dad in a fa­tal crash on the Lindis Pass will per­son­ally hand over a 28,000 sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion at the Bee­hive to­day.

In Novem­ber 2012, Grant John Roberts, 43, of Ti­maru, and Den­nis Ped­er­son, 54, were killed when Chi­nese stu­dent Ke­jia Zheng, 20, ploughed into a group of mo­tor­cy­clists re­turn­ing from the Burt Munro Chal­lenge in In­ver­cargill. Two other bik­ers were in­jured.

Zheng was con­victed in the Alexan­dra District Court and or­dered to pay $10,000 for caus­ing the deaths.

Zheng had been in New Zealand one day when she hit gravel on the Lindis Pass, a no­to­ri­ous black spot, over­cor­rected and crossed the cen­tre line, crash­ing into the bik­ers. Since then, there have been calls to ad­dress the crash rate in­volv­ing for­eign driv­ers.

Roberts’ son Sean, 10, wanted to do some­thing af­ter his dad’s death so he started a pe­ti­tion call­ing for re­form in­clud­ing driv­ing tests for tourists when they hire a car in New Zealand. The aim was 5000 sig­na­to­ries but sup­port has hit 28,391.

This af­ter­noon, he will present the pe­ti­tion to Waitaki MP Jac­qui Dean and list MP and im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter Michael Wood­house.

Sean’s mother Mel Pip­son told the Mir­ror the trip to Par­lia­ment was ar­ranged be­fore the July break.

‘‘Sean’s be­ing do­ing a lot of fundrais­ing and any­thing left over he’s hop­ing to have $500 for St John.’’

Pip­son, Sean, Mr Robert’s chil­dren and ex­tended fam­ily were all plan­ning to ac­com­pany the plucky young­ster to the Bee­hive.

‘‘When Sean met with Jac­qui Dean she told him with the sheer amount of sig­na­tures it will go to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. We’re 90 per cent sure that it will go to a se­lect com­mit­tee. It’s not bad for a 10-year-old boy from the boon­docks.’’

Dean and Wood­house were un­avail­able but in a let­ter to Sean from Wood­house, the min­is­ter said the Govern­ment was de­ter­mined to make New Zealand roads safer.

He said he asked for more in­for­ma­tion on the pro­posal for tourists to sit tests and the Govern­ment’s 10-year plan in­cluded a project called Safer Jour­neys.

As part of that ini­tia­tive, the Govern­ment has asked for a spe­cial project to im­prove road safety in the lower South Is­land.

In 1998, 0.3 per cent of fa­tal crashes in­volved driv­ers with an over­seas li­cence. In 2012, it was 5 per cent.

For dad: Grant Roberts with sons Sean and Cody.

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