Mum, kids killed after driver fails to stop

FATAL: Police at the scene of the Rakaia crash.
FATAL: Police at the scene of the Rakaia crash.

A Dutch tourist who ploughed through a stop sign and into a car killing three of its occupants, leaving two families grieving, has been charged by police.

In what police are calling a "preventable" accident, three people, including two children, were killed after a car failed to give way at a stop sign.

The car ploughed into the left-hand side of the vehicle seriously injuring the male driver, 48, and killing the other three occupants - his wife Sally Vanessa Summerfield, 49, their daughter, Ella Yasmin Summerfield, 12, and their daughter's friend Abigail Ann Hone, 12.

SOMBRE SCENE: The crash site at Thompsons Track, Rakaia.
SOMBRE SCENE: The crash site at Thompsons Track, Rakaia.

All three died at the scene. The father was taken to Christchurch Hospital with serious injuries, and today remains in a serious but stable condition.

The 52-year-old male Dutch tourist has been charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and one count of careless driving causing injury.

Senior Sergeant Scott Banfield said two police officers were in a patrol car parked on the side of the road and witnessed the crash.

The crash occurred about 4pm on Thompson's Track at the intersection with Somerton Road in Rakaia, north of Ashburton.


Canterbury Road Policing Manager Al Stewart said the crash was preventable as "someone has just clearly run a stop sign".

"Given the weather conditions at the time of this crash, and visibility available to the driver travelling on Somerton Road, there is no reason at all why he shouldn't have seen the vehicle on Thompson's Track.''

"This driver's behaviour is absolutely unacceptable, the results of which will be felt by these families and their communities forever.''

The driver was taken to Ashburton Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries before being discharged.

"Due to independent witness evidence available at the scene it is likely that the driver who ran the stop sign will be charged with three charges of careless use causing death and one charge of careless use causing injury", Stewart said.

He said the car that was hit was "doing everything right".

Stewart said all involved in this crash appeared to have been wearing seatbelts, and both cars were travelling at or below the speed limit of 100kmh.

Stewart said drivers must "ensure they are focused on their driving".


Four people have died in Queen's Birthday holiday weekend crashes, including the three from the Rakaia crash.

Robyn Eilleen Derrick, 52, was killed when the 4x4 vehicle she was a passenger in collided with a campervan on the Coromandel Peninsula on Friday night

Three other people were injured in the crash just north of the Hot Water Beach intersection on State Highway 25 about 6.30pm on Friday.

The 4x4 driver suffered serious injuries and was flown to Auckland Hospital by helicopter. The campervan occupants were taken by ambulance to Thames Hospital.

The crash occurred near Whenuakite Hall, and involved a vehicle crossing the centre line, police said.

Crews from Whitianga and Tairua used rescue gear to get people out of the vehicles, as well as helping to set up a landing site for the rescue helicopter.

The serious crash unit was still investigating the cause of the crash. Police had earlier confirmed a foreign tourist was driving the campervan involved.

New Zealand has a reciprocal agreement with about 100 countries allowing foreigners to drive on licences from their home countries while visiting New Zealand. 

In another accident, a man who died in Eketahuna after crashing his car in the Tararua town allegedly drove off from a party because his wife had said she wanted to leave him.

Police have named the dead man as Adrian James Ihaka, aged 36, of Eketahuna.

He crashed into a power pole on the corner of Herbert St and Alfredton Rd, Eketahuna, about 10.30pm yesterday.

Meanwhile two people also suffered serious injuries when a car and a motorcycle crashed on State Highway 5 at Tapapa in the South Waikato this afternoon. 

The two people injured in the South Waikato crash, the motorcyclist and a 12-year-old passenger in the car suffered serious injuries, a police spokesman said.