Accused seeks legal advice

20:20, Sep 20 2009
Michelle Laurenson and Ron Chatters
FATAL SPOT: Michelle Laurenson and Ron Chatters create a tribute at the spot where their friend Frank Van Kampen was killed at Te Horo.

A Te Horo pensioner accused of crashing into an Otaki cyclist and killing him while drink-driving is seeking legal advice as police move to lay charges.

Frank Van Kampen, 46, a teacher at Kapanui School in Waikanae, died when he was struck from behind as he cycled toward his Otaki home along State Highway 1 in Te Horo on Friday night.

His friends want accountability for his death, and an anti-drink- driving lobby group is calling for mandatory manslaughter charges for people who kill while driving drunk.

Mr Van Kampen's close friend and fellow cyclist, Ron Chatters, a caretaker at Kapanui School, saw the crash seconds after he pulled over to ring police to warn them about the woman, who was "driving like an absolute lunatic". "She was all over the road, right on my tail."

She drove straight at Mr Van Kampen near the Red House Cafe, sending him flying through the air "like a rag doll", Mr Chatters, 67, said. "He was dead before he hit the ground."

Police said the woman, 70, was breath-tested at the crash scene and found to have a breath alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

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She was being supported at home yesterday by friends and family, who declined to comment while police were still investigating, but said they were taking legal advice. Charges are likely to be laid after the Serious Crash Unit's investigation.

Mr Chatters said Mr Van Kampen's partner, Jude, and 13-year-old stepson Dante would "miss him terribly", and his 10-week-old daughter would grow up with no memories of him.

Michelle Laurenson, 43, another friend, said there was "absolutely no excuse" for what the woman had allegedly done. "I know the driver is 70 but she must be made accountable."

Meanwhile, Megan McPherson, spokeswoman for Sensible Sentencing Trust subsidiary CrossRoads, said the legal test for manslaughter with a motor vehicle was too high. "Most killer drivers receive lesser penalties and serve less than three years in prison."

It was standard for drink- drivers who kill to be sentenced for manslaughter in Australia, Britain, most of Europe and the United States, she said.

Three other people died on the road at the weekend.

A motorcyclist died after losing control on a bend in Milson, Palmerston North, and hitting a post about 3.45pm yesterday.

Another man died yesterday afternoon when his car collided head-on with another vehicle on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland. Two people in the other vehicle were seriously hurt.

Linda Jane Manuel, of Rongotea, died when her car hit a concrete bridge post near Feilding on Saturday.

The Dominion Post