Boy with 'gorgeous smile' killed
A tiny farming community has been left devastated after a young boy known for his love of sports and "gorgeous smile" was killed while riding a quad bike.
Ten-year-old Shane White had been riding the bike on the Kahutara Rd farm his family sharemilks just after 10am yesterday.
He was found pinned under the bike by his father, Scott, soon after.
Efforts to revive him failed.
A year 6 pupil at neighbouring Kahutara School in south Wairarapa, Shane was looking forward to a trip to Hawke's Bay with his class next week.
The death led to renewed calls from both the chief coroner and Labour Department to keep children off motorbikes at all times.
But a neighbour, Pam Pearce, said all children in the area rode motorbikes.
"It's just what happens. If you don't let them do it, you're smothering them. Farm kids have been doing it forever."
Family friend Kevin Freeman said Shane "lived life to the fullest".
"He was into his rugby and loved his motorbikes and just loved the farm way of life."
Scott and Jacqui White also have two daughters, Sophie and Lexie.
Family and friends gathered yesterday at the property, Rototawai Homestead, Mr Freeman said. "It's such a tragedy, it's pretty raw."
A tearful Kahutara School principal Clare Crawford said Shane would "have a go at every- thing.
"He was into his rugby and he played in the school basketball team and he loved his kapa haka. Anything that was going Shane was into.
Shane had only just joined the school this year from Greytown School, but his death would hit the school's 80 pupils hard.
"He was dearly loved by everyone in our school and our community . . . We're a small rural school so everyone's like family."
Neighbour John Pearce said he and his wife were saddened by the news."It could have a big impact here. It's a rural community and the impact will be devastating."
Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean said his "heart sank" when he heard the news.
"Depending on what the circumstances were there's a very clear message coming out from the Department of Labour that quad bikes and children just do not mix," he said.
"The emphasis needs to be that riders need to be properly trained because they are not toys. How many more [deaths will there be]?"
A spokesman for the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry, Francois Barton, said children should not be allowed to ride adult-size bikes.
"These large and complex machines are not toys, and riders require significant experience and training to operate them safely.”
A TRAGEDY THAT KEEPS HAPPENING
- August 2012: During the inquest of farm worker Geoffrey Raymond Gill, 66, Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar recommends people using quad bikes on farms be instructed in their use and dangers. He also recommends always wearing a helmet, not letting children ride adult bikes and choosing the right vehicle for the job.
- January 2011: Wellington coroner Ian Smith demands mandatory helmets, lapbelts and roll bars, blasting authorities for a lack of action. In his findings into the death of Filipino beekeeper Jody Dean Santos, 21, Mr Smith says at least 122 people had died from quad bike accidents in the previous 10 years, but coroners' recommendations had been consistently ignored.
- November 2009: Coroner Ian Smith and Palmerston North coroner Tim Scott repeat calls for helmets, lapbelts and roll bars after the deaths of South Wairarapa man Phillip Osborne and 19-year-old Stratford farm worker Lucinda Couchman.
- August 2005: Four-year-old Molly was killed while driving a quad bike on her family's Taranaki farm. Her father, Gavin Vanner, was acquitted of her manslaughter.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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