Six deaths in dark week on roads

Last updated 06:28 01/12/2013

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Motorcyclists die in separate accidents while heading to Burt Munro event, writes Sarah-Jane O'Connor

In an horrific week on South Island roads, six people died in six days.

In the latest accident, a tourist died after a collision between a car and a truck in South Canterbury.

The crash occurred about noon yesterday, and it appeared the tourist's car pulled out in front of an oncoming truck. The truck hit the driver's side of the car and he died at the scene. His passenger was initially flown by the Westpac rescue helicopter to Timaru Hospital, but last night he was moved to Christchurch Hospital.

A Westpac spokesman said the passenger was in a life-threatening condition. The truck driver was uninjured.

The two tourists, in their 20s, are believed to have arrived in the country last Friday.

The accident comes at the end of a dark week on South Island roads, with five other fatalities in four accidents earlier in the week.

Gaurav Bhabhera, 28, and Marae Judy Dean, 52, both died in a head-on collision on SH1 south of Christchurch on Monday. Bhabhera, an Indian national in New Zealand on holiday with his wife, was believed to have veered across the centre-line into oncoming traffic. Babhera and Dean, of Ashburton, both died at the scene. The passengers in both cars were seriously injured.

On the same day, Steven Wayne Nottingham, 59, from Christchurch, died after a motorcycle crash on SH6 north of Haast. He was towing a trailer, and police said this may have contributed to him losing control of the motorcycle. Nottingham crossed the centre-line on a tight left-hand bend and hit the side of a campervan travelling in the opposite direction.

A second motorcyclist died on Wednesday near Haast, apparently after a mechanical malfunction with his home-built V8-powered trike. Barry Graeme Nielson, 70, from Feilding was travelling to the Burt Munro Challenge in Southland as part of a charity ride. Nottingham had also been heading to the Southland rally.

Police said speed was not a factor in either of the motorcycle accidents.

Later Wednesday afternoon Lindsay Clive Sarchet, 63, crashed into a bridge near Tai Tapu, south of Christchurch. He was airlifted to hospital but died overnight.

Police said it appeared Sarchet had lost control of his car when he tried to overtake another vehicle.

Today police begin a two-month lowered speed threshold, hoping to reduce road accidents.

Assistant Commissioner road policing Dave Cliff said the speed threshold of just 4kmh is aimed at saving lives and preventing injuries on the roads this summer.

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National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said the recent spate of accidents was "extremely unfortunate" and police were determined to crack down on summer speeding.

"It's a dark week on the roads for the families of the people involved."

- Sunday Star Times

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