Fam­ily’s mis­sion saves lives

South Waikato News - - Front Page - DANIEL HUTCHIN­SON

A South Waikato fam­ily have made it their per­sonal mis­sion to save oth­ers from the fate that claimed the el­dest son.

For seven years the Ti­rau fam­ily of four has re­fused to let the past rest - one tragic mo­ment has had a last­ing im­pact on them and they are de­ter­mined to make sure it has not been in vain.

On May 15, 2009, Jor­dan East­gate [12] hopped off a school bus in Mata­mata and in­ex­pli­ca­bly ran across the road to greet his wait­ing mother Mandie Roband. He was struck by a car and killed in­stantly.

‘‘I wasn’t fast enough. I saw the car com­ing the other way and there was a huge im­pact. He was thrown in the air like a rag doll and landed on the side of the road.’’

Younger brother Forde [now 15] was also there and said it was a hard mo­ment to for­get. Dad Grant East­gate was on the other end of the phone to Mandie when the ac­ci­dent hap­pened - wait­ing while she en­sured the kids were safely off the bus.

‘‘I said just wait a se­cond while I get the kids across the road and for some un­godly rea­son he de­cided to get out of the bus and run across the road.’’

She said they all get flash­backs about the day and it was a day the fam­ily [which also in­cludes 18-year-old Caitlin] would al­ways re­mem­ber.

The se­ri­ous crash unit de­cided that the bus was not com­pletely sta­tion­ary at the time of the ac­ci­dent so the 2okmh limit did not ap­ply. Coro­ner Peter Ryan found there was some fault with both the driver and Jor­dan’s ac­tions but no charges were laid.

How­ever the fam­ily has not let the mat­ter rest and feel that speed is a fac­tor and that too many driv­ers do not know to slow down to 20kmh when pass­ing a school bus, even on an open road.

They have had fly­ers and a bill­board made up and push the mes­sage when­ever they can, to who­ever they come across.

When Grant - a truck driver - is out on the road, he al­ways makes a point of warn­ing other driv­ers about school buses.

Roband said some peo­ple blamed Jor­dan or her for the ac­ci­dent but he had been well trained in how to get on and off the bus.

Chil­dren were a poor judge of time and dis­tance until their brains were fully developed well into their teenage years.

Roband said it was im­por­tant peo­ple stick to the 20kmh speed limit.

‘‘Some peo­ple wither ig­nore the 2okmh law or they don’t know it.’’

‘‘I wasn't fast enough. I saw the car com­ing the other way and there was a huge im­pact. He was thrown in the air like a rag doll and landed on the side of the road.’’ Mandie Roband

PHOTO: DANIEL HUTCHIN­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Slow down says Forde East­gate

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