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Police charge driver of van in July's serious crash

Police charge driver of van in July's serious crash

Rotorua Police have this morning charged the 18 year old driver of a van involved in a serious crash south of Rotorua in July with one charge of dangerous driving causing death and 10 charges of dangerous driving causing injury. He will appear in the Rotorua District Court on 10 January, 2011.

The single vehicle crash happened at approximately 2:30am, on Saturday 17 July 2010 on State Highway 5 at Tumunui, just south of Rotorua.

The van, with 12 teenage occupants including the driver, was travelling north on State Highway 5 when it crossed the centreline, losing control and colliding into a bank before rolling back onto the road. All 12 occupants were thrown from the van.

Seventeen year old Jesse Howe died 22 days later as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. He was the front seat passenger in the van. The other eleven occupants received injuries ranging from minor to critical.

The Bay of Plenty District Road Policing Manager, Inspector Kevin Taylor, says this was a devastating crash that had an immediate and wide impact on the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty communities, and around New Zealand.

"This was a particularly nasty crash, where we were incredibly lucky that more young lives were not lost."

He says the impact of the event was compounded by another fatal crash within days involving students from Rotorua Girls High School.

Inspector Taylor says an extensive serious crash investigation has been underway since the crash on July 17, with the determination made this week that there was sufficient evidence to charge the driver.

"Every serious crash is treated with the resources and respect it deserves. However, given the particularly serious and sensitive nature of the crash, and involving such a large number of victims, it was absolutely critical in this case.

"Investigations like this simply cannot be rushed – it was important that the investigators took the time that they needed to cover every detail that was or could have been a factor in the incident."

Inspector Taylor says this week's developments and subsequent charges serve as a timely reminder for everyone using New Zealand's roads – particularly over the festive season.

"Just one crash this holiday period will be one crash too many. Please, make the right decisions to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe on the roads.

"It comes down to the same tried and true advice – slow down, drive to the conditions, wear your seatbelt, and don't drink and drive.

Inspector Taylor says Police are unable to make any further comment about the circumstances surrounding the July 17 crash as the case is now due to go before the Court.

He says the investigation into the second fatal crash that week which killed 18 year old Kristi Ruri-Gardiner is now complete, and will be referred to the Coroner shortly.


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