Bike crash kills Kiwi in Cook Islands

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 12:10 19/09/2012

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A New Zealand man has been killed in a motorcycle crash in the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands police have not released the man's name but it is understood he was 37-year-old Mark Whitney.

The construction industry worker was brought up in Rotorua, but has family in Hamilton and recently lived in Melbourne, Australia.

"His body is still in the Cook Islands with the funeral director still waiting to be repatriated to New Zealand later this week," said Inspector Tere Patia of the Cook Islands police.

Whitney's brother and sister were understood to be travelling to Rarotonga to bring his body home. They live in Hamilton, along with his mother.

Police said Whitney's body was discovered beside the road at Muri, Ngatangiia, early on Sunday (local time). They have appealed for anyone who may have seen the crash to come forward.

Whitney was not wearing a crash helmet and suffered serious head injuries. Cook Islands police say they believe alcohol was involved.

Police were told Whitney was drinking alcohol at a nightclub before his death.

"This latest death brings the total number of people who have died on our roads this year to four since January to now. Most of those deaths involved motorcyclists not wearing safety helmets. Contributing factors were alcohol, speed and carelessness. All were preventable," police said.

"This will be the second foreigner that died in a fatal crash this year - both New Zealanders involving alcohol as the cause of the crash. The other person is a sailor on the navy ship Otago that was berth in port in Rarotonga early this year."

He was 22-year-old able seaman combat specialist William Paratini Delamere who died in similar circumstances in June.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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