Driver runs into cycle safety class

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2013
Ford Fribbens
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

SORE BUT ALIVE: Ten-year-old Ford Fribbens recovers from a broken leg at home after being struck by a car during a cycle safety course with classmates.

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Ford Fribbens may have two breaks in his leg after being knocked off his bike while on a cycle safety course, but he is already raring to get back on two wheels.

The 10-year-old Halswell School pupil had stopped at a kerb in Sabys Rd about noon on Wednesday when he was hit by a car from behind - and in front of his horrified classmates.

He was taken to Christchurch Hospital with a broken leg and grazes to his knees and elbows and will spend the next two weeks off school and confined to a wheelchair.

Yesterday, he said he was "sore" but was looking forward to the time off.

"I do want to go to school but it's mostly good [to stay home]," he said.

Ford's family moved to Christchurch three months ago from Whangarei to work on the city's earthquake rebuild.

Mum Maria Fribbens said getting the call from the school saying her son had been in an accident was her "worst fear" realised.

She quickly drove to the scene and saw "all the children with their ashen faces", crying and hugging each other.

As soon as she saw Ford conscious in the ambulance "the relief came straight away".

"The first thing he said to me was ‘I love you mummy'. What can you say to that?" she said.

The crash happened during the final part of a cycle safety course run by the Christchurch City Council's safety team.

Ford had been waiting to cycle across the intersection when the vehicle suddenly swerved, smashing his bicycle and shattering the windscreen.

"With his cries, people came out from their houses and put blankets around him and just reassured him," Fribbens said.

"I was told [the driver] was just motionless . . . she just literally sat there."

Police told her they would be pressing charges against the driver but were awaiting the results of a drug test.

"It could have been far worse."

Fribbens said her son was already keen to get a new bike in spite of the crash.

"I'm the one that feels apprehensive about [it]," she said.

Halswell School principal Bruce Topham said the other children who witnessed the crash were "absolutely beside themselves. But we've got a great community here and everyone pulled together to look after the kids."

Topham praised the council's safety team, saying the crash did not reflect the work they did.

"They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Council education programme manager Anne-Marie Kite said it was the first time a pupil participating in the cycle programme had been hit by a vehicle since it began 15 years ago.

The programme had strict health and safety procedures but the council would consider any outcomes from the police investigation, she said.

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- The Press

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