Drink driver charge

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 03/02/2014

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A New Plymouth woman handed herself in to police after fatally hitting a young man walking along the highway in the dark.

The 37-year-old woman was arrested and charged with drink-driving causing the death of 19-year-old Wiremu Vincent Thompson, of Bell Block, yesterday.

Police believe the dead man and his friend were walking home from a party in Waitara to Bell Block when Mr Thompson was hit outside Big Jim's Garden Centre on State Highway 3 about 5am.

They were only about 2 kilometres from their home.

The driver, also travelling back to New Plymouth after socialising in Waitara, stopped on the roadside after the impact and then got back in her car and drove to the New Plymouth police station.

"It's just a terrible thing to happen. It's affected so many people," officer in charge of the investigation Detective Byron Reid, of the Taranaki CIB, said.

"She came to the station to report what happened," Mr Reid said.

He did not believe she was at the same party as the two young men.

Mr Reid declined to discuss whether Mr Thompson was on or off the road when hit or if speed was involved.

The Palmerston North-based Serious Crash Unit attended and was yet to complete its report.

The area where the crash occurred is deemed a dangerous stretch of road by police and the NZ Transport Agency.

The 100kmh speed limit was temporarily reduced to 80kmh before the Christmas-New Year holiday.

Mr Reid said it was pleasing that the police call for witnesses who saw the two men walking along the road or the car to come forward had already drawn responses.

Police would still like to hear from any other witnesses who saw the young men or the woman's 1998 brown Holden Commodore sedan between 4am and 5.15am in the Waitara and Bell Block areas.

A fisherman driving from New Plymouth to Mokau has told the Taranaki Daily News he believes he saw the two young men about 4am walking along the grass on the roadside near the Waitara turnoff.

"It was a shock to see them as I turned the corner. They were on the same side as me. I was looking right at them," he said.

The two were walking on the grass and one was wearing a high-visibility T-shirt, the fisherman, who asked not to be named, said.

"At least they weren't drinking and driving - but maybe that would have been safer in this case."

The driver is to appear in the New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday.

It is the first fatality on Taranaki roads this year. Last year seven people died on the region's roads.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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