Tourist’s death leads to road speed review
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.’’
The corner of Shooting Butts Rd the morning after the crash.