Widower haunted by crash

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013

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James Morton's last memory before his wife's death is the face of the horse that collided with their car.

Diana Clair Morton, 56, died instantly after the collision with a horse roaming loose on Birchs Rd, Prebbleton, about 9.45pm on Thursday, as she drove home to Lincoln with her husband.

James Morton said there was little warning, and he took comfort from the belief his wife and mother of his three daughters did not suffer in the sudden collision.

He wondered whether the horse was drawn to the light on the dark night.

"When I saw the horse it was actually galloping towards us . . . We saw the horse and that was it.

"The one image I do have was the face coming straight at us."

James Morton had only minor bruising and was treated at the scene.

His wife was a social worker with the Salvation Army, working most recently with earthquake victims.

Police and the NZ Transport Agency have issued a warning to Canterbury farmers that they can be prosecuted if negligence can be proven when wandering animals cause damage.

It is not yet known whether charges will be laid in connection with Diana Morton's death.

Senior Constable Andy Grant, of the Darfield police, said the car's front, windscreen and roof were badly damaged in the "tragic accident" on the 100kmh road.

"Obviously livestock loose on the road pose a major danger to road users," he said.

Horses and cattle were "particularly unforgiving".

The brown gelding also died in the crash. Grant had spoken to the owner of the horse, who was "obviously . . . really devastated too".

NZTA highway manager Colin Knaggs said wandering stock posed a serious safety risk to road users.

Owners of wandering stock could be prosecuted if the stock caused a crash and negligence could be proven.

Their responsibilities lay under three pieces of legislation - the Crimes Act 1961, the Animal Law Reform Act 1989 and the Impounding Act 1955.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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