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 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.”