Woman, 71, killed in Hamilton hit-and-run
A family's Christmas Day turned to tragedy yesterday when a woman was killed in a hit-and-run crash at one of Hamilton's busiest intersections.
The 71-year-old was the first person to die on the country's roads since the official holiday road toll period started at 4pm on Christmas Eve, but the second to die in tragic vehicle-related circumstances in the Waikato region.
On Christmas Eve, a 3-year-old boy was killed after being hit by a car in a driveway at Hatepe, south of Taupo.
A woman was leaving the property about 9pm, on the shared driveway on Te Mako Mako Ln, when the boy was hit. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
In yesterday's fatal crash, the other car involved was driven away after the collision about 12.30pm but was tracked to a residential address in the Pukete-Te Rapa area a short time later.
The woman had been travelling with four other family members, including two children aged 7 and 10, when she was killed.
The car she was in was travelling north along Te Rapa Rd, when a car coming from Avalon Dr, travelling east, T-boned the car, right where the woman was sitting. The car then took off, but a witness followed and called 111 to alert police.
Police found the vehicle, and a 26-year-old woman suspended driver, at a Pukete house shortly after.
Police said it was too early to say who was at fault, or if any charges would be laid.
Sergeant Phil Ruddell said his condolences went out to the family of the deceased.
"It's tragic for them and everyone involved and certainly [on Christmas Day]. It's tragic at the best of the times but [Christmas Day] is the worst.
The crash takes the region's road toll to 45 compared to 52 at the same time last year - the highest regional toll in the country.
Waikato road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said driver behaviour had been good on Friday and Saturday but deteriorated on Sunday.
"We had 15 car crashes reported to us," Mr Lynam said. "And [Christmas Eve] it spiked to 24 in the Waikato. The majority of those were in the Hauraki, Thames and Coromandel areas where the majority of holidaymakers pass through. So that's quite disappointing."
There was also a motorbike crash on the northern outskirts of Whangamata yesterday where a man suffered serious injuries.
"It can just be matter of luck from what may have been a close shave and a minor crash to that of a violent, serious crash. Any one of those could quite easily be a serious crash."