Mower driver charged over boy's death

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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A council lawnmower driver faces a charge that could result in jail after a 4-year-old Hastings boy was killed in a mowing incident.

Uetaha Dahtanian Ransfield-Wanoa, of Camberley, died in Kirkpatrick Park, Hastings, on October 8 last year.

The boy was playing at the park with his cousins when he was hit by the tractor-pulled mower, operated by a Hastings District Council employee.

Onlookers said the boy appeared to be sucked into the mower's blades. The scene was seen by the boy's 8-year-old uncle and other children, who ran to get help. Uetaha died at the scene.

His family described him as "a bubbly, cheeky" boy with "a mischievous grin, who was loved by everyone".

Police yesterday charged a 72-year-old man with reckless driving causing death. The maximum penalty for such a charge is up to 10 years' jail or a fine of up to $20,000, as well as a driving disqualification of at least one year.

The man will appear in the Hastings District Court next month. An application for name suppression had been filed, police said.

Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod said inquiries were continuing and it would be inappropriate to comment. The council and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had both begun investigations.

An elderly man escaped serious injury when he was pinned under a ride-on lawnmower in Whakatane yesterday.

The volunteer groundsman, in his 70s, was mowing at the Whakatane Golf Course when the mower moved backwards over a bank and tipped, pinning him underneath by his shoulder and arm.

He was trapped for 30 minutes before being freed by volunteer firefighters. He was taken to Whakatane Hospital with minor injuries. Chief fire officer Ken Clark said the mower missed the man's head by millimetres.

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- The Dominion Post

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