Dead rider’s mother for­gives driver

Teen’s car trav­elled too fast up hill to ne­go­ti­ate blind bend and veered out of lane with tragic con­se­quences

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Kurt Bayer

The mother of a cy­clist killed by a teen driver who strad­dled the cen­tre line go­ing up a busy Christchurch hill has for­given the young­ster. Robert Kruger, 18, was on a re­stricted li­cence and driv­ing with an un­li­censed passenger when he hit 33-year-old cy­clist Thomas John Al­ton about 6.45pm on Fe­bru­ary 20.

Po­lice found that al­though he wasn't speed­ing, Kruger was go­ing up­hill too fast for a 35km/h blind bend on Park­lands Drive in the hill­side Hunts­bury sub­urb when he moved into the op­po­site lane.

English-born Al­ton had gone just 150m from home and was trav­el­ling quickly, pushed fur­ther into his lane be­cause of parked cars, when he was struck, Christchurch Dis­trict Court heard yes­ter­day. He died in hos­pi­tal four days later. Kruger ear­lier ad­mit­ted a charge of care­less driv­ing caus­ing death.

Judge Jane Far­ish yes­ter­day sen­tenced him to 200 hours of com­mu­nity work and or­dered him to make an emo­tional harm re­pay­ment to the Al­ton fam­ily of $2000.

She also dis­qual­i­fied him from driv­ing for 12 months, mean­ing he would need to re-sit his li­cence.

Adam Al­ton said his world col­lapsed when hear­ing his “ad­ven­tur­ous, car­ing, funny and en­er­getic” el­der brother had died.

“It never re­ally fin­ishes sink­ing in,” he said in a vic­tim-im­pact state­ment.

He wants Kruger to un­der­stand what he has done and to do some­thing pos­i­tive in his life and help oth­ers.

His fa­ther, John Al­ton, spoke of the “huge trau­matic shock” in what was an “un­in­ten­tional but pre­ventable” ac­ci­dent.

De­fence coun­sel Vicki Walsh de­scribed events as heart­break­ing and a cat­a­strophic “per­fect storm” in­volv­ing mil­lime­tres and sec­onds.

She said Kruger, whose par­ents were in court, had ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity and taken part in a mov­ing and pos­i­tive restora­tive jus­tice con­fer­ence with the Al­ton fam­ily.

He had asked for for­give­ness from Al­ton's mother and she had graci- ously granted it, Walsh said.

“At 18, he has learned the most pro­found and tragic les­son of his life, for which he deeply apol­o­gises,” Walsh said.

Po­lice had ruled out sun-strike but Walsh said it had been a trou­bling fac­tor.

At the time, cars could park at the apex of the cor­ner, Walsh said, but the coun­cil now had put yellow lines there to pre­vent park­ing.

In sen­tenc­ing Kruger, Judge Far­ish ruled out adding su­per­vi­sion, say­ing: “He just needs to get on with his life.”

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