Pair prevent car crash
Frank Collins and Leo Wilson were the right motorists to be following an elderly man driving dangerously.
The two men used their cars to ‘‘box in’’ another vehicle, preventing what police believe would have been ‘‘ a serious crash or fatality’’.
About 7pm on May 9, Mr Collins and Mr Wilson were behind a car approaching Paremata roundabout on SH58. The car, which did not have its lights on despite the darkness, hit the median barrier and then went to make a right turn at the roundabout, into oncoming traffic heading south off the bridge.
When the car went up onto the roundabout instead, Mr Collins and Mr Wilson immediately drove up on either side and ‘‘boxed him in’’, Mr Wilson said.
‘‘He tried to accelerate off but I removed the keys from the ignition. He told me to ‘bugger off’, he was adamant he had to get home and actually got out a second set of keys and tried to start the car up again. He was quite stressed.’’
The 92-year-old driver had visited his wife in Wellington Hospital, dropped his son home in Whitby and then was heading to his own home in Waikanae. Police, who were called to the scene on the roundabout, believe the man got disoriented in the darkness and panicked. He was driven home by police and they are assessing whether he should retain a driver’s licence.
Mr Collins and Mr Wilson were presented with certificates of appreciation from Kapiti Mana Police area commander John Price last Tuesday.
Mr Price said while they never encourage people to put themselves at risk, the pair’s quick thinking averted a certain tragedy.
‘‘I’m sure if [the elderly motorist] had continued on there would have been a serious crash or a fatality. These two men acted quickly, they could have made the choice not to get involved but they had the community’s safety in mind and made a call.’’
Mr Collins – father of All Black Jerry Collins – said the elderly man’s head was barely visible above the steering wheel and he thought a child was driving.
‘‘He was all over the road. I was thinking ‘if I can get past him, I can stop him’ and then when he went onto the roundabout I saw I had the chance.’’
Mr Wilson says, ‘‘The safety of the public was paramount, we just acted.’’
Good Samaritans: The occupations of Frank Collins, left, who works for Downers and often cleans up road accident sites, and Leo Wilson, a mental health worker and nurse, led to police to claim they were ‘‘the perfect pair’’ to prevent a possible calamity.