Driver blames tiredness for fatal crash

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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A driver seen weaving across the road before crashing head-on into a courier van, causing fatal injuries to the 82-year-old passenger, says she was very tired.

In the New Plymouth District Court yesterday Paula Michelle Scott, 44, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Roland Peters, 82, eight months ago on State Highway 45 near Oakura.

Drivers following Scott before the crash told police how they had pulled back after they saw her weave into the wrong lane many times between Westown in New Plymouth and when she crashed head-on with the van on the open road.

They believed the erratic driving must have been caused by the driver either being drunk or on drugs.

After the crash, Scott told police she had had trouble sleeping following recent major surgery, and was very tired, having not slept in the 24 hours before the crash.

The police summary of the crash states that Mr Peters was accompanying his son Christopher Peters, 56, who was driving the courier van, about 3.30pm on June 30, heading towards New Plymouth.

The father died four days later in Taranaki Base Hospital from his injuries, which included broken bones in his legs and head injuries.

Scott also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing injury to Christopher Peters, who suffered chest injuries, was off work for six weeks and continues to have ongoing health problems.

Despite his injuries he got out of the van to care for his father before emergency services arrived.

The head-on impact was so severe it ripped off the van's passenger door. The van was thrown into the air, landing on its roof facing the opposite way to which it was going.

The Toyota driven by Scott was left 20 metres down the road facing the way it was travelling.

Both vehicles were written off.

Earlier, witnesses told how they thought Scott must have been drunk or under the influence of drugs when they saw her car weaving in and out of her lane in suburban New Plymouth streets.

Along Tukapa St and Poplar Grove the car completely crossed the centre line.

At one point in South Rd the car almost ended up in a driveway before it was seen to veer sharply back on to the road.

Scott nearly crashed into a car travelling towards her, returning to her side of the road seconds before a collision. The Toyota was also seen to be braking erratically.

Community Magistrate Sherida Cooper remanded Scott on bail to appear before a judge on February 12.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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