Cou­ple an­gry at pun­ish­ment for driver

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DONNA-LEE BID­DLE

The sun was shin­ing and the air was crisp as Teresa O’Don­nell drove to­ward the ru­ral Waikato town made fa­mous by hob­bits.

She had spent four days get­ting to know her new­born grand­daugh­ter.

As Teresa rounded the slight bend on State High­way 29, her hus­band Gary in the pas­sen­ger seat, she saw a car on her side of the road com­ing at her at 100kmh.

She swerved to the right, but the white rental car swerved with her and the ve­hi­cles crashed head-on.

Gary, scream­ing, writhed in pain. Teresa looked down to see her kneecap ex­posed.

It had been four weeks since the June 12 crash near Mata­mata and Teresa said the per­son re­spon­si­ble, an Amer­i­can tourist, was is­sued a ‘‘me­nial pun­ish­ment’’.

A po­lice me­dia spokesman con­firmed a 23-year-old man was to ap­pear in Mor­rinsville District Court on June 21, charged with care­less or in­con­sid­er­ate ve­hi­cle op­er­a­tion caus­ing in­jury, in re­la­tion to the crash.

The tourist, who has since left the coun­try, pleaded guilty to the charge and was or­dered to pay $5000 in repa­ra­tion, Teresa said.

‘‘It’s me­nial pun­ish­ment that [tourist driv­ers] are get­ting, but not only that, they’re com­ing here and they don’t un­der­stand our roads or the weather and they just drive like bloody id­iots,’’ she said.

Teresa, 49, and Gary, 51, mi­grated to Christchurch from Eng­land 14 years ago, but for the past four years, they have been liv­ing and work­ing in Syd­ney.

The cou­ple’s daugh­ter lives in Mata­mata. The in­juries the pair sus­tained mean it could be weeks be­fore they’re healthy enough to travel back to Aus­tralia.

Teresa suf­fered a com­pounded frac­ture to her left knee and will be in a leg cast for 12 weeks.

Gary has a frac­tured pelvis, a frac­tured wrist, a frac­tured right rib, a bro­ken toe and bruis­ing.

‘‘The repa­ra­tion costs ... I don’t feel like that’s enough at all. It’s dis­gust­ing. But what do you do and where do you go from here?’’ Teresa said.

Teresa said over­seas driv­ers were a big prob­lem in New Zealand. But the Trans­port Agency’s chair­man for its na­tional vis­it­ing driv­ers project, Jim Har­land, said the per­cep­tion that crashes in­volv­ing for­eign driv­ers is in­creas­ing is not jus­ti­fied.

He said the is­sue shouldn’t be the na­tion­al­ity of the driver, but the driv­ing it­self.

Teresa and Gary O’Don­nell were hit head-on by an tourist while driv­ing on a 100kmh road near Mata­mata.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.