Fonterra crash survivor stresses danger

Pair highlight risk of drunken walks

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013
Collette Devlin/The Southland Times

John Paul Leask, left, meets up with the Fonterra truck driver who ran into him for the first time since the accident near Edendale.

leask fonterra
JOHN HAWKINS
HELLO AGAIN: John Paul Leask meets up with Stephen Woodrow.

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@devlincolle The last time Fonterra truck driver Stephen Woodrow saw John Paul Leask he was lying on the road covered in blood after being hit by his tanker.

Yesterday, the two men came face-to-face for the first time since the accident.

Mr Leask wanted to personally thank the driver and say sorry for being on the road.

The two men wanted to highlight the dangers of walking at night, which was a "regular occurrence" in Southland. Last month, Mr Leask was walking home at 2am while drunk and texting.

He was on State Highway 1, between Edendale and Mataura, after a wedding, when he was struck by the truck.

Mr Woodrow swerved to avoid hitting Mr Leask front on, but the left side of the truck hit him and he bounced off.

Mr Leask took responsibility for his actions and said Mr Woodrow's swerving had saved his life.

Mr Woodrow was on his way to Riversdale with an empty tanker that rainy night, when Mr Leask, dressed in black, came out from the shadows.

"I caught him out of the corner of my eye and instantly swerved, hoping I didn't hit him but then I heard bang, bang."

Mr Leask's ears, nose and mouth were bleeding, which gave Mr Woodrow a shock and he feared the worst.

"Then he started making noises and trying to move, which gave me a bit of peace of mind knowing he was still alive."

He attributed his quick actions to his Fonterra training and his driving experience.

Fonterra drivers were taught about scanning the road ahead and looking beyond the lights and other driving techniques.

Drivers often dodged things and people on the Southland roads, he said. One of the worst roads was Mataura to Gore, where drivers frequently saw people walking at night.

"It's a roadway not a footpath," he said. He advised people not to walk at night.

"We will not see you because it's dark clothing on the black road and the rain will make it worse."

Until the incident it was common practise for Fonterra drivers to call the other drivers and warn them of potential hazards, such as road walkers.

However, Fonterra had since had meetings with police and had come to a new agreement.

Drivers would now also call police about potential hazards, Mr Woodrow said.

Mr Leask, a dairy farm manager, has made a full recovery and returned to work.

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