Home with his lover' s ashes
Glenn Hamilton will fly out of Auckland today carrying the ashes of his lover, Catherine Clarke, and a conviction for causing her death.
The 50-year-old Canadian is understood to be traumatised after making a fatal decision to pull out of State Highway 25 onto SH2 at Waitakaruru and into the path of a fully laden truck and trailer unit last week.
"If [he] had [had] an extra look and seen the truck coming, no way would he have gone across there," Sergeant Jim Corbett of the Thames Strategic Traffic Unit told the Waikato Times yesterday.
"He's got to live with the fact now that he's killed his best friend, the love of his life, and travelling companion - and he has to live with that for the rest of his life."
Hamilton pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to a charge of careless driving causing death and was convicted yesterday at Thames District Court and disqualified from driving for six months.
Afterwards, he travelled to Hamilton to collect Ms Clarke's ashes after a private cremation.
He is due to fly home to Victoria, British Columbia, today.
The couple flew to New Zealand so Ms Clarke could compete in the World Triathlon Grand Final age group section in Auckland on October 22.
Ms Clarke, who was 46, came 57th out of 79 - a personal best, her brother Anthony Clarke told the Times Colonist newspaper in Canada.
Ms Clarke, the youngest of four siblings who had "lots and lots and lots of friends", had been enjoying the countryside after her event and was due to fly home the day after the accident.
Her trainer, Clint Lien, said she was in a good place in life, and crazy in love with Hamilton.
"The way she talked about him, I thought it was a new relationship - she was all happy and glowing - but then I heard they'd been together for six or seven years," he said.
More detail about the accident emerged yesterday in the police summary of facts.
The couple, with Hamilton at the wheel, had stopped their Nissan on SH25 at the compulsory give way at the busy intersection.
He let two southbound vehicles pass before entering the intersection and accelerating out to head north.
At the same time, a fully laden J-Swap truck was travelling north on the 90kmh safe speed limit zone of SH2.
The truck driver veered left to avoid the Nissan but ran out of room.
It slammed into the passenger side door; the impact was so severe Ms Clarke died at the scene.
There have been a string of serious crashes at Waikato intersections recently, some involving foreign drivers, and Mr Corbett said more and more tourists are flowing into the region as summer comes on.
Mr Hamilton may not have looked twice after letting the vehicles pass, he said, something overseas travellers tended to do.
"A lot of our crashes lately have boiled down to the at-fault drivers just not focusing on what's happening in front of them.
"Drivers have to forget about everything else in the car and focus on what's happening on the roads because it only takes a second's inattention."
In the three years till 2011, 56 overseas drivers were involved in fatal crashes and eight were identified as on the wrong side of the road, including swinging wide and cutting corners.
Of the 1800 overseas drivers involved in injury crashes, 72 were on the wrong side of the road.
Overall, 4.3 per cent of the overseas drivers involved in crashes between 2009 and 2011 were identified in crash reports as being on the wrong side of the road.
September – American Kenneth Stithem killed at Waitomo caves road-SH3 intersection while honeymooning with his wife Kirsten Steinke, who also suffered critical injuries.
June – Four Argentinians killed and one suffered serious injuries when they collided with a truck near National Park.
May – Three American students killed when the people-mover they were travelling in rolled near Turangi.
February – Canadian Michele Smith, 60, killed in collision also at notorious Waitomo Caves intersection.
February 2011 – Lancashire man George Skofic, 18, crossed centre line near Pairere, killing two.
January 2011 – An American tourist died after the vehicle he was driving collided head-on with a Mazda 6 stationwagon on SH25, near Whitianga.