Bus accident victim says she forgives

Patricia Decesare
Patricia Decesare

An elderly woman lost her leg and her independence after she became tangled up in the wheels of a New Plymouth bus - but holds no grudge against the bus driver.

Michael Ngeru Walden was yesterday sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court for careless driving injuring 86-year-old Patricia Decesare.

Mrs Decesare's badly injured leg had to be amputated following the incident.

She must now live in a resthome.

However she was so sympathetic for the bus driver's plight she was knitting garments for his grandchildren, the court heard.

Walden had denied the charge but was found guilty at a defended hearing.

Yesterday, Walden's lawyer Philip McCarthy urged Judge Allan Roberts to fine his client and reduce the mandatory six-month driving disqualification to six weeks for the driver who was the main breadwinner for his family.

Walden was deeply remorseful and had offered his sympathy to his victim who was a regular passenger of his.

Mr McCarthy said that just before the incident on February 2, his client had stopped his Tranzit Group bus to allow all the passengers to get off at the drop-off-only stop in Molesworth St.

He watched as they all walked away to the Centre City shopping centre.

He saw the elderly woman safely disembark, carried out his mirror checks and pulled out but at that time Mrs Decesare moved back into the proximity of the bus.

Judge Roberts agreed it was not a deliberate act on the part of the driver, who was driving away at the time.

Mr McCarthy said his client's employers had been extremely supportive of him but if he lost his licence for the mandatory six-month period he would lose his job.

The company would look at re-employing him after he regained his licence but only if a driving position became available - there was no guarantee.

Walden was a thoroughly conscientious driver. The incident had a profound impact on him including health upsets, weight loss and a personality change, Mr McCarthy said.

Walden had one previous conviction for careless use in 2004 when he was disqualified for one month. As a bus driver Mr Walden was unable to apply for a limited licence.

His fault was but a brief period of inattention, the judge said. But as a bus driver his obligations were elevated compared with that of the driver of a car.

The judge disqualified Walden from driving for three months and made an order for him to pay Mrs Decesare $750, which he said was the appropriate level of fine.

Outside court Mr Walden and a representative from Tranzit declined to talk.

Taranaki Daily News