2 Jun 2014

Man charged over triple fatality crash

10:09 am on 2 June 2014

Police have charged the driver of a car involved in an intersection collision in South Canterbury that claimed three lives.

The man, a Dutch visitor, has been charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and one count of careless driving causing injury.

Police said his Subaru went through a stop sign, hitting a Volvo carrying a Christchurch family and a young friend at the intersection of Thompson's Track and Somerton Road on the outskirts of Rakaia on Saturday afternoon.

Sally Summerfield, her daughter Ella, 12, and Abigail Hone, who was also 12, died in the crash.

Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane Summerfield is in Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit in a serious but stable condition.

The incident was seen by two officers in a patrol car parked on the roadside.

Police said the charged man, who received minor injuries, had been granted bail after being treated in Ashburton Hospital and is expected to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday.

Five deaths so far during holiday weekend

The three deaths are among five on the country's roads this Queen's Birthday weekend.

"This is five more than last year, where no deaths were reported, so we're gutted," Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing Dave Cliff said.

And most of the fatalities were preventable, he said.

"When we look at the data, it keeps on having the same sad messages coming through. There are still people who drive after drinking alcohol, there are still people travelling too fast, there are still people who don't safely seatbelt in themselves or their passengers."

"The whole thrust of this campaign was (about) reminding people about how fragile life is and it's so important to heed those safety messages when out there on New Zealand's roads."

All available police staff were on patrol for the long weekend, and Mr Cliff urged people to drive to the conditions as winter set in.

The latest fatal crash happened in Eketahuna about 10.30pm on Saturday and left Adrian James Ihaka, who was 36, dead after his car hit a power pole.

Acting Central District Road Policing Manager Senior Sergeant Kris Burbery said the man had been at a social gathering and was involved in an argument before the crash. He left the gathering and crashed about 600m down the road.

The first crash of the long weekend was on Friday night, when one person died in a head-on collision in the Coromandel. Three others were injured.

In another accident on Saturday, a child and one other person were seriously injured in a crash in south Waikato.

Police said a car and a motorcycle collided on State Highway 5 at Tapapa.

The motorcyclist and a 12-year-old passenger in the car were flown to hospital.

Last year there were no deaths on the road during Queen's Birthday weekend.

The holiday weekend toll period started at 4pm on Friday and ends at 6am on Tuesday.