Much-loved woman dies in motorbike crash

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 05/11/2012

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A vivacious Okato woman who died in a motorcycle crash on Saturday had been on her way to attend the unveiling of a headstone for a friend who also died in a motorbike crash.

Tracy Janice Dando, 45, was riding with her husband, Mark Dando, from Opunake to Rahotu when she crashed on a corner of State Highway 45 about 11am.

Mr Dando said he was devastated to lose his wife of 25 years and the mother of their three children. "She was the love of my life.

"She was loved by everyone, just so many people."

He said she spent her life helping people and was always ready for a laugh.

"She worked for Internal Affairs in town and worked with all the community groups in Taranaki getting their funding for them."

She was also involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programme, was a regular speaker at Toastmasters in New Plymouth and loved to ride her motorbike.

"She was the life of every party.

"She knew people all around the mountain through her job.

"She would speak to anyone and laugh and sparked everyone up into conversation."

The couple's oldest daughter, Jane, 28, who works as a teacher in London, is flying back to Taranaki today to join her brother, Clayton, 24, a lieutenant in the navy and sister, Hine, 16, a student at New Plymouth Girls' High School.

Mr Dando said he and his wife were on their way to the unveiling of Brian Walden, a friend who died when his motorbike and a ute collided south of Oakura last year.

"It was the torrential rain.

"She just came off and we tried to save her but we couldn't," Mr Dando said.

Sergeant Kim Severinsen said it looked like Mrs Dando had failed to take a corner, slid off the road and possibly had hit a signpost.

"Early signs are that poor weather conditions have been a major contributing factor," he said.

South Taranaki was bombarded with heavy rain for several hours on Saturday morning and water had pooled on the road between New Plymouth and Opunake.

Passing motorists and emergency services administered CPR for more than half an hour while waiting for the Opunake ambulance to return from taking a patient from another crash to hospital in New Plymouth.

One of the motorists who stopped to help said she had been driving slowly because of the weather when the motorcycles passed her.

"When they passed us, there was three of them.

"I was going 40km on the 100km and they just crept past me, so speed wasn't a factor and she was actually driving OK.

"They were not driving fast and they were not being silly."

No other vehicles were involved and the serious crash unit will be investigating.

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Mrs Dando's crash was one of four on Taranaki roads on Saturday.

St John operations manager Ian May said the Opunake ambulance was tied up taking a 24-year-old Opunake man with arm injuries to Taranaki Base Hospital after his car crossed the centre line and hit a concrete wall at the corner of State Highway 45 and Arawhata Rd about 9.30am.

"It is an unusual and infrequent situation that sees two serious accidents occurring within 1km of each other, in this rural area, within such a short time frame," Mr May said.

The ambulance took 37 minutes to arrive.

About 5.45am a 17-year-old male was taken to hospital with moderate head injuries after crashing into a concrete fence between Rata St and Nikau Pl in Hawera.

At 4am a woman fell asleep at the wheel of her car on the Tangahoe Bridge and crashed into a culvert, but was uninjured.

Mrs Dando's funeral is expected to be held on Wednesday in Okato.

Details are yet to be confirmed.

- Taranaki Daily News

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