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Bus driver sentenced following Christmas Eve crash

"Bus driver sentenced following Christmas Eve crash near Gisborne"

Please attribute to Sergeant Cory Ubels, Serious Crash Unit:

Police today acknowledge the sentence passed down in Waitakere District Court following a bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve 2016.

Three people died following this event.

Today’s sentencing follows a Police investigation which led to 66-year-old Talakai Aholelei being charged with three counts of Careless Driving Causing Death, and 27 charges of Causing Injury.

This is obviously a very traumatic time for the families of the victims, but they are satisfied with the result of the court process.

A further 27 passengers received moderate to severe injuries, and some are still recovering from their injuries.

The vast majority of the passengers were students and teachers from a college in Vava’u in Tonga.

They were not only in another country and a long way from home, but a large number of them had serious injuries.

They lost three loved ones, they barely spoke any English and most of their personal property was on the bus, so they had no clothes or food.

It was an incredible sight to see and hear how everyone came to assist these people in need, providing clothes, bedding, blankets, food, as well as fridges to keep the food cold.

It was a very humbling experience to be part of that.

I would like to acknowledge Government agencies, a number of private companies and the local Gisborne community who all came together at very short notice on Christmas Day 2016 and the days after, to work collaboratively for the sole purpose of taking care of the victims of this crash and to get them back to their home in Tonga.


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