Former Hurricane mourns wife's death in crash

STACEY KIRK AND MATT STEWART
Last updated 15:19 01/04/2013
Hannah Eaton
HANNAH EATON: The 25-year-old wife of rugby player Chris Eaton died in a car crash south of Thames on Saturday.
Former Hurricanes rugby player Chris Eaton
Fairfax NZ
FAMILY TRAGEDY: Former Hurricanes rugby player Chris Eaton, whose wife, Hannah, has been killed in an Easter weekend car crash.

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Former Hurricane and Hawke's Bay rugby player Chris Eaton has posted a Twitter tribute to his wife Hannah, who has died in an Easter road accident.

The couple have a young daughter, Layla.

''Thanks for the support. I love my wife so much it hurts. My angel Layla is my world and is the last thing holding me together. Love 2 all,'' Eaton posted on Twitter this morning.

Police said Hannah Louise Eaton, 25, of Hastings, died at 9.30pm on Saturday in a crash at Puriri, 14 kilometres south of Thames.

Eaton was driving north in a BMW when it collided with an oncoming Ford Territory SUV, police said. Two other people were injured.

Eaton played 27 matches for the Hurricanes in 2011-12, and 64 matches for the Hawke's Bay Magpies since 2007.

Currently on a short-term contract with the Western Force, Eaton was meant to play against the Waratahs yesterday afternoon.

He did not feature in the match while his teammates played with black armbands.

Several Twitter messages were sent to him yesterday to offer condolences to him and their daughter Layla.

All Black and Hurricanes player Victor Vito also passed on his condolences.

Piri Weepu said, ''My thoughts and prayers go out to you and Layla brother. Stay strong my mate. Words can never bring her back, but we here 4 you.''

Eaton's death is one of three over the holiday period, which ends at 6am tomorrow.

Police say the last few hours of the Easter holiday period are a "critical" point and vigilance needed to remain high.

Traffic was already building up in known trouble spots in the lower North Island this afternoon.

There were "very heavy build ups" for both north- and south-bound traffic on State Highway 1 between Waikanae and Otaki, a statement said.

"Traffic is heavy but still flowing freely south between Paraparaumu and Porirua."

Last year, year no-one died over the holiday period, but police figures show over the last five Easter periods there have been an average of six road deaths each year.

Of the other fatalities, a 53-year-old man Paraparaumu man, Antony John King, died in a two-car crash on State Highway Five near Wairakei.

Taupo police said the man was killed when the Suzuki car, he was a passenger in, collided with a BMW.

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The 18-year-old driver of the BMW was taken to Taupo Hospital with minor injuries, while the 54-year-old driver of the Suzuki was airlifted to Waikato Hospital in serious condition.

On Friday, cyclist Stephen John Kirkcaldie, 55, of Temuka, died after a collision with a car.

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said this year's road toll was disappointing.

"Three fatalities is always three too many. We now have a shared responsibility to avoid further tragedy and loss of life. After a long dry spell of weather, showers can make roads slick and slippery. We caution motorists to watch their speed, and be patient on congested roads."

"We all expect roads to be busy so be courteous to other road users, expect delays and plan your trip accordingly."

Police had been enforcing a speed tolerance of 4kmh above the designated speed throughout New Zealand.

Griffiths said sticking to the road rules was childs' play and there was no excuse for anyone to be flouting the rules.

"The message is so simple your kids could tell your this: drive to the conditions, plan your journey, take regular breaks, wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, and watch your speed."

"Human beings are fallible and crashes will occur. However the incidence of injury or deaths can be reduced, when we accept, comply with, and share the responsibility for using our roads safely."

Griffiths said although the road toll was up on last year, the figures had been trending downward. New Zealand's worst Easter road toll was in 1971 when 21 people were killed.

"For me, the sad thing is three people have lost their lives. And for the friends and families of those people, Easter will never be the same again.

"Talking to the communication centres around the country, it would seem that none of those three crashes were necessarily related to holiday traffic - they all happened away from large volumes of traffic and on roads not regarded as main travelling roads."

But he said people needed to stay aware, regardless of what road they were travelling on.

"We want people to be patient on the roads, and particularly when they are considering using passing lanes.

"It's going to take longer to get home, and the last thing we want is impatient drivers taking over long lines of drivers at high speeds."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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