Woman receives torrent of online abuse after driving over ducks during 'sneezing fit'
A woman has received a torrent of abuse online after running over a family of ducks.
Melissa Harrop said she did not mean to hit the ducks as they crossed Christchurch's Emmett St, Shirley, on Wednesday morning.
"I had a sneezing fit, and by the time I looked up it was too late," she said.
She did a U-turn to see if the ducks were OK, but when she saw a man taking photos of her Honda Odyssey, she "panicked" and drove off.
That man was Robbie Lane, who was driving in the opposite direction. He stopped to let the parents and two ducklings safely pass, but "knew straight away" the car coming the other way would not do the same.
"They were just going too fast," Lane said.
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"They didn't brake, they didn't swerve. Straight over the top."
The impact killed the mother duck and one duckling. Lane got out of his car with his camera as Harrop did a u-turn.
"It looked like they were coming back for more, but that's open to interpretation, I guess," he claimed.
Harrop said she went back to check on the ducks.
"That's when I noticed the guy was taking photos of me, so I panicked a little bit and took off.
"I regret everything of it and I just want everyone to know that I didn't do it on purpose," she said.
Harrop said she cried afterwards and posted on her own Facebook page: "sorry rip ducks I'm sorry".
Lane said he placed the two dead ducks on the grass verge, then contacted SPCA via Facebook and made a complaint to police.
Lane posted a photo of Harrop's car, with its number plate, to a driving Facebook page.
The response from the public was "nuts". By Friday afternoon, the post had over 1800 comments and 1100 shares.
Commenters identified the registered car owner as Harrop, who said she received a torrent of hate messages.
It did not help when an associate of Harrop posted several disturbing images under Lane's post, pretending to be the driver involved.
One post showed a dead duckling next to a barbecue and said "I'm having duck for dinner with my patties". Another used a photo the associate had of Harrop's car.
Harrop said: "It's not in my nature to hurt animals."
SPCA Canterbury marketing and communications manager Anna King said the organisation was investigating the incident.
The SPCA would try to hold anyone deliberately harming a duck responsible, she said.
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