Tourist’s death leads to road speed re­view

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - PIERS FULLER

The South Wairarapa Dis­trict Coun­cil has been asked to re­view the speed limit on one of its coun­try roads af­ter the death of an Amer­i­can hon­ey­mooner.

Dou­glas Parker Di­etz, 29, of Vir­ginia, died on Septem­ber 29 last year in a car crash on Shoot­ing Butts Rd near Mart­in­bor­ough.

Di­etz and his wife, Kath­leen, were in New Zealand on their honey­moon. On the night of the crash, he left their ac­com­mo­da­tion be­tween 8pm and 9pm in the cou­ple’s Toy­ota Es­tima rental car to look at the stars on the clear night.

About 4am Kath­leen Di­etz re­ported that her hus­band had not re­turned. He was found dead be­hind the wheel of his up­turned rental ve­hi­cle on Shoot­ing Butts Rd about 6am.

A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the crash hap­pened when Di­etz failed to main­tain con­trol of the ve­hi­cle, which was es­ti­mated to be trav­el­ling about 100kmh, and slid off the road on to a grassed shoul­der be­fore flip­ping into a cul­vert and land­ing on its roof.

Di­etz was not wear­ing a seat­belt, and had a blood al­co­hol level of 78mg per 100ml, which is over the le­gal limit of 50mg.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Sergeant Peter Sowter said Di­etz may also have been af­fected by fa­tigue.

Shoot­ing Butts Rd is a long, straight road with low vol­umes of traf­fic, on which Sowter said the speed limit ap­peared to have de­faulted to 100kmh.

Po­lice rec­om­mended speed lim­its on the road be re­viewed ac­cord­ing to the New Zealand Trans­port Agency’s speed man­age­ment guide, is­sued last year.

The guide­lines iden­tify and pri­ori­tise roads where bet­ter speed man­age­ment might most ef­fec­tively con­trib­ute to re­duc­ing deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries.

Sowter said: ’’There is noth­ing to pre­vent a mo­torist from adopt­ing a slower speed if they feel un­com­fort­able driv­ing at the sug­gested speed.

‘‘It would seem ap­pro­pri­ate to con­sider ask­ing the South Wairarapa Coun­cil to re­view the road un­der th­ese guide­lines to see if any change in the speed limit is deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘Re­gard­less of the ac­tual out­come of any re­view, it may serve to as­suage the con­cerns of any in­ter­ested par­ties.’’

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Crimp said it had con­ducted an ini­tial re­view against th­ese guide­lines. ‘‘How­ever, we will need to un­der­take a much larger re­view, as the guide­lines ap­ply to all our road­ing net­work.’’

ILLYA MCLEL­LAN/STUFF

The cor­ner of Shoot­ing Butts Rd the morn­ing af­ter the crash.

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