Lifelong friend killed in ATV accident
Oamaru man Fraser Robert Cameron struggled to control his emotions as he was banned from driving for six months for an all terrain vehicle (ATV) crash that killed his lifelong friend.
Ryan Stuart died when the ATV driven by Cameron slid down a slope, overturned and landed on him, while the two were out duck hunting near Waimate on May 6, 2017.
Cameron, 32, a builder, dressed in a white shirt and black tie, fought to keep his emotions under control as he was sentenced in the Timaru District Court on Thursday for careless driving causing death, in front of a public gallery packed with Stuart’s family.
According to the police summary of facts, Cameron was driving his friend in an ATV along a farm track when he overshot a moderate left-hand bend.
Judge Joanna Maze said the vehicle started to slide down the slope and Cameron overcorrected, resulting in both men being thrown from the vehicle.
‘‘Unfortunately the vehicle landed on your friend, he was crushed and died of his injuries,’’ Judge Maze said.
Defence lawyer Michael de Buyzer said Cameron and Stuart met 16 years ago when they boarded together at school.
They flatted together in Dunedin for three years, and had been lifelong friends.
‘‘The death of the defendant’s friend is a tragedy for the family of the deceased,’’ de Buyzer said.
He said Cameron’s remorse about what happened was real and heartfelt, as shown by the fact he needed to write down what he was going to say at the restorative justice conference with Stuart’s family for fear he would otherwise have broken down in tears.
Cameron’s remorse and regret had been fully accepted by Stuart’s family, de Buyzer said.
When the crash happened, Cameron ran a considerable distance to call for emergency services.
De Buyzer said given the remote location of the crash, it took St John some time to get there.
Equipment needed to be taken across a river, which meant there was a delay in Stuart getting treatment.
‘‘These memories are etched indelibly on Cameron’s mind and will haunt him for many years to come.
‘‘He made the call to the deceased’s father to relay the news of the crash and played a full role in the funeral.
‘‘That identifies the significant and genuine remorse felt by this young man,’’ de Buyzer said.
Judge Maze said Cameron’s pre-sentence report recommended a sentence of community work. Stuart’s family did not want Cameron to pay reparations to them.
‘‘You are clearly deeply remorseful and you continue to grieve for the loss of a very close friend,’’ the judge told Cameron.
She said it was not necessary to sentence Cameron to community work.
Fraser Cameron (left) outside the Timaru District Court after his sentencing on a charge of careless driving causing death.