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Crash victim's death a 'life sentence'

Last updated 12:58 08/04/2014
Chelsea Findsen and Greg Woledge.
Tauranga electrician Greg Woledge with his partner Chelsea Findsen.

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The former partner of a Tauranga man killed in a crash on Maungatapu Bridge last August says his death is a life sentence for the family.

Greg Woledge, 24, died after the AMP'T Electrical van he was driving was hit by another vehicle on the bridge, sending it through the railings into the Tauranga Harbour on August 12 last year.

Yesterday, the driver of the Mitsubishi that crossed the centre line to collide with Woledge's van was sentenced to 350 hours' community work and ordered to pay more than $49,000 to the victims.

Papamoa man Iain Stewart Crisp, 45, received the sentence from Judge Christopher Harding after earlier pleading guilty to charges of careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury.

He also earlier admitted to a number of cannabis charges: possessing cannabis, possessing a pipe, possessing cannabis seeds, offering to supply cannabis, and to making a false statement in a logbook.

The charge of making a false entry in a logbook, related to Crisp, who was then a bus driver, signing in his logbook that he was driving a bus until 8pm, when the collision happened before 8pm.

Crisp was driving the Mitsubishi towards Mt Maunganui when he crossed the centre line, hitting the electrical van driven by Woledge about 6.10pm. The van then ploughed through the bridge railing and fell five metres into the harbour at Rangataua Bay.

Passenger Ashley Donkersley, then 23, managed to escape after the van became submerged and was rescued by police constable Deane O'Connor.

Woledge, however, was trapped inside the van on the driver's side and was unable to be rescued. His body remained in the van and was recovered the following day when the vehicle was lifted from the water by crane.

The impact of the crash sent Crisp's vehicle into a spin, ending up facing the car travelling behind, which then collided in a head-on crash. The third vehicle's occupants, a man and his pregnant partner, were taken to Tauranga Hospital along with Crisp, who had to be cut free.

In court, Crisp was sentenced to 250 hours' community work and ordered to pay $29,000 in emotional harm to the Greg Woledge Trust on the charge of careless driving causing death. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months from yesterday.

On the charge of careless driving causing injury to Ashley Donkersley, the judge sentenced Crisp to 200 hours' community work, to be served concurrently, and ordered to pay $9000 in emotional harm to the victim.

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In addition he is ordered to pay $11,000 to the driver of the third vehicle - Corey Ogle - for damage to the vehicle, and a total of $16,134 for damage done to the bridge.

On the cannabis charges Crisp will serve a total of 100 hours community service.

During sentencing Woledge's partner and mother of his two children, Chelsea Findsen, told the court Woledge's death is a life sentence for his family.

She was six months pregnant when Woledge died and he will never see his second daughter, born in December.

She said their "happy, loving family has been destroyed".

In sentencing, lawyer Bill Nabney said Crisp pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, and has demonstrated his remorse through seeking out a restorative justice meeting.

Sun Media

- Waikato

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