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Ruapehu Mayor Meets Berrymans Over Bridge Collapse

Ruapehu District Mayor Sue Morris to meet Berrymans to resolve King Country bridge collapse case

Ruapehu District Mayor Sue Morris will meet a King Country couple next week in a bid to resolve the 1994 collapsed bridge fatality case.

King Country couple Margaret and Keith Berryman were partially blamed in the corner’s inquest for the death of beekeeper Kenneth Richards following a bridge collapse in 1994.

The Berrymans have asked police to investigate the case. Mr Richards’ vehicle plunged to the Retaruke Riverbank near Taumarunui nine years ago.

Keith and Margaret Berryman have provided police with what they believe is key evidence in the case.

However, Ms Morris will discuss the issue with the Berrymans at a meeting at 1pm in Ohakune next Wednesday, November 5.

The Berrymans’ lawyer Willie Palmer of Buddle Findlay said it was a positive step forward.

"I am delighted the Mayor of Ruapehu District Council (RDC) is prepared to get involved and meet with the Berrymans. I will do all I can to assist in bringing this matter to an end as soon as possible," Mr Palmer said.

The Berrymans have written to Detective Inspector Doug Brew at Palmerston North police providing him with fresh information, seeking serious consideration and response.

``As the police have never investigated, we have now made a formal application to the police to do so,’’ they said in their letter to the police.

The Berrymans had earlier appealed to the solicitor-general to begin another inquest after claims the Army withheld information.

The couple feel they have suffered for loss of earnings, legal bills and anxiety and distress as a result of the ongoing case.

The coroner's court did not hear the findings of the Army’s own court of inquiry into the fatality.

New information given to police shows that army personnel had always been worried about the strength of untreated timber materials used in constructing the bridge.

A former Minister of Labour Doug Kidd in a letter said: ``I am advised by OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) that the army was concerned about the quality of the materials’’.

The army built the bridge on the road which Land Information New Zealand said was under RDC control.

``In the case of the Te Rata Bridge both the army and the council showed a dereliction of duty,’’ the Berrymans said, in their letter to police.

``By allowing the bridge to remain in use for eight years, in an area that was under the control of the council, quite clearly the council could be deemed to be guilty of manslaughter.’’

They also said the Army could be guilty of manslaughter too by using materials not suitable for bridge construction.

The army built the bridge but the Berrymans did not own it.

The bridge was owned by the Taumarunui County Council, now Ruapehu District Council. The Berrymans say the council was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the bridge.

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