Crash scene studied for clues

Hitchhiker death should lead to review

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 12/03/2014
Reverend Graham Karatau
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
TRAGEDY: Reverend Graham Karatau of Anglican Church in Marton, performs a blessing at the spot where the accident occurred.

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The death of a hitchhiker should be the catalyst for a review of the speed limit through Turakina, says a resident who witnessed attempts to save a man killed in the Rangitikei town.

Whanganui man Anthony Shramka, 27, died after being hit by a truck on State Highway 3 in Turakina shortly after 10pm on Monday.

Mr Shramka was believed to be hitchhiking to Whanganui when he was hit by a truck and trailer unit near the Wanganui Rd intersection in the Rangitikei township.

Turakina resident Paul Chitty, who lives near where the incident happened, said he didn't hear anything from the back of the house.

It wasn't until he went outside and heard sirens that he realised something had happened.

When he went to investigate, he saw Mr Shramka lying in the middle of one lane of the road, and a large truck and trailer unit with a fertiliser bin on the back and a badly damaged front left hand side pulled up outside the Mobil service station.

About five firefighters arrived and were carrying out first aid on Mr Shramka as he lay on the road. The incident occurred in an area flanked by streetlights.

While it was unknown whether speed played any role in the crash, Mr Chitty said he hoped the 70kmh zone would be lowered to 50kmh.

There was no pedestrian crossing or island on the road and to hear the squeal of brakes from a near miss was common, he said.

Yesterday morning, the Rev Graham Karatau, of the Anglican Church, blessed the site.

The blessing was to put Mr Shramka at peace, and leave the road safe for other users, Mr Karatau said.

Higgins contractor Alex Drover visited the scene to take photos of the crash site, and to check visibility and road conditions on behalf of the New Zealand Land Transport Agency.

He said he did not find any issues.

NZTA regional highways manager David McGonigal said they would investigate all potential contributing factors, including speed, to help them understand how such incidents might be prevented.

"It's important that in investigating this crash we leave no stone unturned, and for this reason it's simply too early to speculate on the investigation's outcome."

They were not aware of any recent requests to review the speed limit through Turakina, he said.

Police communications spokeswoman Sara Stavropoulos said the serious crash unit and Whanganui police were still investigating, but early indications were that Mr Shramka had stepped out into the path of the truck.

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Anyone who saw Mr Shramka hitchhiking between 9.30pm and 10.10pm in Turakina on Monday is asked to contact Constable Craig Jackson at Whanganui CIB on 06 349 0600, or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- Manawatu Standard

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