Dutch driver haunted by crash he can't remember

Last updated 12:52 18/07/2014
Arjen Buter
Fairfax NZ
BROKE THE NEWS: Fellow Dutchman Arjen Buter, left, pictured with fatal crash driver Johannes Appelman at an earlier court appearance last month.
Johannes Jacobus Appelman
Dean Kozanic
BIG PLAYER: Johannes Jacobus Appelman owns a seed air-conditioning company based in the Netherlands.
Sally Rumble and Ella Summerfield
CLOSE BOND: Mother and daughter Sally Rumble and Ella Summerfield, 12, died along with Abi Hone in the crash.
abi hone
MOURNED: Abi Hone, 12, was in year 8 at Rangi Ruru Girls' School.

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Dutch driver Johannes Jacobus Appelman is haunted by a fatal crash he can't remember, a close friend says.

The 52-year-old only learned he had killed three people and injured another when he was told hours later in Ashburton Hospital, fellow Dutchman Arjen Buter told The Press.

''He collapsed, he burst out crying . . . and he started swearing at himself,'' Buter said yesterday. Buter was the one to tell Appelman about the crash.

''He was extremely sad and he was crying for those that he had injured and killed.''

However, in court this week, defence lawyer Philip Shamy said Appelman had no memory of the crash but remembered ''waking up beside his car''.

Since the accident an ''absolutely devastated'' Appelman had barely slept, Buter also said.

He was ''very remorseful'' and would never forget the pain and suffering he had caused.

''This is going to be in his mind for the rest of his life. His heart goes out to the [two families].

''He's devastated but he cannot talk about his feelings. He's hardly able to do it in Dutch . . . and if he was to try it in

English it would come across completely wrong.''

Appelman, who regularly travelled to New Zealand on business, was driving to a Rakaia farm on May 31 when he ran a stop sign on Somerton Rd, killing a mother and two 12-year-old girls.

Sally Rumble, 49, daughter Ella Summerfield and Ella's friend, Abigail Hone, died instantly. Appelman's rented stationwagon hit the side of their Volvo, which was westbound on Thompson's Track. Rumble's husband, Shane Summerfield, was driving the Volvo. He was seriously injured.

On Thursday, Appelman was disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay $25,000 in emotional reparation to Summerfield for causing crash.

He had already paid a similar, undisclosed sum to the Hone family.

Appelman had attended a restorative justice meeting with the Summerfields, and a private meeting with the Hone family.

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The court heard yesterday that the Summerfields had been left with the feeling that Appelman did not feel remorseful.

Since the crash, Appelman had been staying with Buter's family at their property in West Melton. He would fly home to the Netherlands as soon as his passport was returned by authorities.

''He's got three kids and they haven't been sleeping either. They want their father home,'' Buter said.

Appelman owns a firm that sells air conditioning, heating and drying systems for commercial flower bulb growers, seed growers and arable farmers.

The Dutchman might return to New Zealand because he had many customers here, Buter said. But If he did, he would likely hire a driver because he would never drive here again.

- The Press

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