Crash on 'racetrack' leaves resident riled

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 06/08/2012
Andrew Meffan
VIRGINIA WOOLF/Fairfax NZ

RUDE AWAKENING: Andrew Meffan and daughter Iris view the damage after the occupants of a car lost control and crashed into a tree, a road sign and their parked van during the early hours of yesterday in Van Diemen St, Nelson.

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A crash on a Nelson city street has a resident calling for police and the city council to take notice of what he says has become a "racetrack".

A car came over the hump at the intersection of Van Diemen and Rutherford streets and went up on to the sloping grass verge in Van Diemen St yesterday morning, taking out a tree and a school warning sign.

White paint on the road shows that the car skidded on its roof or side along the road, before smashing into the back of Andrew Meffan's parked van. It ended up on its side between the van and his house.

Woken by a huge bang, Mr Meffan raced outside in his pyjamas at 2.15am to see two men and two women scrambling out of the smashed windscreen of the crashed Mazda. He said he could smell alcohol, and thought the four were in their late teens to early 20s.

They split up, the men taking off across the Hampden Street School playing fields towards Nelson Hospital, and the women running down Waimea Rd.

Mr Meffan called the police as he chased the women, who split up at the Nelson College for Girls playing fields by Rutherford St. He said he saw one go into a flat, where people were helping to wipe blood off her.

Mr Meffan's neighbour called him, then told police at the crash scene to go to the flat.

Mr Meffan returned home to a sleepless night. He said his main concern was what had happened with traffic in Van Diemen St.

"Traffic through here was altered eight years ago, and [the council] have created a monster. The give-way was on Van Diemen St, not on Rutherford St, and now it has the effect of creating this racetrack.

"I regularly see vehicles, cars and motorbikes that come around off Waimea Rd and they don't have to slow down, and they then accelerate, and I estimate they go over 100kmh up this section.

"We get boy racers drifting on the corner, and we get ordinary average people driving up to town at 60kmh - I know they speed, because I've followed them."

He said it was a unique piece of road with its curves and humps, but he believed roading engineers could come up with a solution.

Mr Meffan is also calling on commuting drivers "to pull their horns in a bit".

"The city council and the police need to take some notice of the situation."

He said he had previously raised concerns with councillor and now retired police officer Eric Davy, but had been told there were not enough statistics to warrant a speed camera or police action.

"I suggest that approach is foolish. It's about time something is done. This shows how crazy it is. It's absolute lunacy."

Mr Davy told the Nelson Mail the road had been redesigned, with speed calming measures put in place to make it safer for children to cross.

"I have been very happy with the way the road has behaved. There will always be idiots who think they can drive as fast as they can, with the sole purpose to see if they can get airborne over the Rutherford St intersection, which is just stupid.

"It is a main arterial route for the city traffic, and the traffic calming measures endeavour to slow traffic and make it safe for crossing."

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Mr Meffan said he would love to see a camera - not a speed camera - to show what was happening with traffic on the street.

Police said it appeared that the crashed car was stolen. Photographs Mr Meffan took at the scene show it was being driven on a space saver tyre.

Nelson police said an 18-year-old woman had been been processed for drink-driving.

The back of Mr Meffan's Mitsubishi Delica is completely smashed in, and he expects it will be a writeoff.

Mr Meffan, a dentist, said he believed alcohol was too cheap, and he was critical of the way it was glamourised.

"Talk to pathologists - they don't drink a lot of alcohol. They see the huge effect on health - it's everywhere throughout health problems. It's one of those things you think you can get away with, but it's a have."

- The Nelson Mail

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