Tragedy still too raw for family to discuss

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2014

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Pink spraypaint, blood and flowers marked the point where a family's world shattered on a gravel driveway near Pokeno.

It was around 4pm on Tuesday when emergency services rushed to the scene of a serious incident at McGill Rd, on the brow of a hill east of the main highway.

Its last driveway is dark and well worn. It runs downhill then forks - to the right is a vacant rental; to the left is a fresh road graded in pale gravel and stained pink and red.

A folded sheet of A4 lay near the top at noon yesterday bearing a message scrawled in vivid: "Love you Bubbie xxx".

Police say a five-year-old boy and a sibling were riding on a trailer behind a four-wheel drive when the "incredibly tragic scene" unfolded.

Pink police markings at the scene suggest they were travelling downhill and turning right when, somehow, the boy fell onto the driveway.

He was critically injured, and while emergency services tried to revive him, he died at the scene.

He was the sixth child to die during this driveway danger season which runs from about November to March, according to Safekids Aotearoa director Ann Weaver.

It was also the second fatal incident involving a child in the Counties Manukau police district in only two weeks. On April 12, another boy was injured when he slipped under a trailer in Takanini.

Counties Manukau Police would not comment on whether it was the boy's father at the wheel of the 4x4 at McGill and are withholding the boy's name.

Yesterday, family and friends gathered at home on Great South Rd at Pokeno. The grief was still too raw for them to speak publicly, a spokeswoman said, and there was nothing to say anyway.

Weaver has seen the pain before.

"We know it has lifelong consequences, because what could be worse than driving over your own child?

"The guilt is extraordinary, and of course it has impacts on the relationships in the family - that's well documented. I feel really sad because it's not so long ago that we had another child that had been killed in a driveway and here we are again.

"This isn't the typical scenario of a driveway incident, however it's still a tragedy in a driveway and I think we've got to keep pushing the message to parents and caregivers that kids, cars and driveways don't mix."

Her message is threefold: check where children are all the time; ensure they're supervised if cars are moving on your property; and,make a safe play area away from the driveway.

Counties Manukau road policing manager, Inspector Neil Fisher, called the boy's death "incredibly tragic".

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He also had some advice:

Driveways and carparks are just as dangerous as a road - a slow moving or reversing vehicles can be deadly for a small person.

Remember that any kind of vehicle is no match for a child, including cars, trailers and quad bikes.

Small children and toddlers can be hard to see over the front or rear bumper of any kind of car - know where the kids are before you start the car.

- Waikato Times

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