Driver 'must be held to account'

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014
Sharla Phyllis Haerewa
TREASURE: Nursing student Sharla Haerewa was "a beautiful, loving and caring girl".

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The death of cyclist Sharla Haerewa was preventable and the truck driver who hit her should be held to account, a close friend says.

Gemma Atkinson, 22, said Haerewa had told her she felt unsafe cycling and had some "close calls" in the past. However, she continued to bike to work and nursing college most days because "she loved it".

Haerewa, 22, a student nurse, was hit by a Bidvest truck while she was cycling along Lincoln Rd about 6.40am last Wednesday.

She was on her way to work at Christchurch Hospital. She had working lights on the front and back of her bike and a reflective cover on her bag.

Police said the truck turned directly into her path at the intersection with Domain Tce, knocking her from the bike and dragging it nearly 40 metres. Haerewa died at the scene.

Atkinson said she believed her friend's death was preventable. It came down to drivers being responsible and aware on the roads, she said.

"She [Haerewa] always said it was dangerous because people never pay attention," Atkinson said.

The Bidvest truck driver, a man in his 70s, and his company, should be held accountable for "taking my young angel's life", she said.

Atkinson said she wanted cycleways to be part of her friend's legacy.

While they might not stop a truck driver turning into a cyclist's path, they were a step in the right direction to safer city roads.

Haerewa, too, would have considered cycleways a good idea.

"For her, I want them," she said.

Atkinson met Haerewa at Christchurch South Intermediate and they attended Cashmere High School together.

"No matter how long we had been apart, whether it was weeks or months, we would catch up as if there had never been time apart," she said.

Atkinson said Haerewa was studying German so she could work as a nurse in Germany and go to Oktoberfest. She also wanted "lots of babies", Atkinson said.

"I admired her goals and plans, as I'm not as ambitious, but now I feel I have to stand up and do more to honour her and live for her, because she wouldn't waste a second. I will start biking again for her."

Bidvest Food Service Christchurch general manager Greg McGale said earlier that the truck driver had a clean driving record and was "traumatised" by the incident. Police are considering laying charges against the truck driver. A spokesman said he would likely be formally interviewed this week.

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