Two people seriously hurt at Nikao’s wall of death

Monday July 01, 2019 Written by Published in Crime
Two men sustained injuries in a motor vehicle crash at Nikao seawall on Saturday. 19051229a Two men sustained injuries in a motor vehicle crash at Nikao seawall on Saturday. 19051229a

“When people are drinking they think they’re 10-foot tall and bulletproof.”

That’s the reaction of Diane Fletcher, one of the first motorists on the scene after another horror smash on the Cook Islands’ most unforgiving stretch of road, by the Nikao seawall.

Fletcher witnessed the immediate aftermath. “I was there,” she said. “Two male adults, in their 40s or 50s, they looked to be overtaking on a corner.”

Her child was in the car. “I felt so sorry for those guys, but also for children like mine, who see this stuff. It affects your life forever, seeing someone’s head on the road.”

“Very serious, and very distressing to all concerned who witnessed this awful scene.”

Police said alcohol was the leading factor in the crash.

The men were somewhat lucky that on of the first on the scene was a paramedic, who other witnesses said may have saved their lives.

Matt Alphors, a visiting firefighter trainer from Fire and Emergency NZ, said he came across a white truck, and two motorbike riders in the middle of the road. “They were unconscious and unresponsive, but breathing with a slight pulse,” he said last night. “Both had large lacerations to their heads.”

He said they were surrounded by tourists, who felt helpless and didn’t know what to do.

He was able to give them initial treatment and put them in recovery position.

“They were very lucky they didn’t go underneath the truck,” Alphors said. “The driver did really well to take evasive action.”

He understood from others on the scene that the men had been drinking. “They were old enough that they should have known better,” he said.

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said a motorcyclist and his pillion rider, both suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, were taken to hospital by ambulance.

The two had been riding behind a truck, travelling from Avarua towards Arorangi. They tried to pass the truck on the blind corner by the Meteorological Office.

“While overtaking the truck, the bike collided into the side of the truck,” Pitt said. “The two males on the motorbike sustained head injuries and cuts to the body.”

About 100 motorists a month test over the drink-drive limits; among those convicted in the past month have been an ambulance driver and an airport fire engine driver.

Earlier this year, Cook Islands Police revealed 10 years of data showing that 87 per cent of road deaths were alcohol-related.

Of the 50 road fatalities recorded since 2008, 45 occurred on Rarotonga with nearly 87 per cent of those being alcohol-related.

According to Ministry of Health figures, young males aged from 16- to 25-years old continue to represent the largest group of those requiring medical treatment.

“A vast majority of the fatality victims were male: 72 per cent of those on Rarotonga (82 per cent nationally),” police said.

“The largest group among the 45 lives claimed on Rarotonga were the 16-25 year-olds – representing 49 per cent of the total.”

Police reports and additional information from Rarotonga hospital clearly indicated the seriousness with which drink-driving must be taken if there is to be a positive impact on reducing road deaths and injuries from crashes, the statement added.

“The data and profile information gathered from the fatalities and road injuries are a cause for alarm.”

Diane Fletcher agreed: She said people felt they could do anything when they’d been drinking, and didn’t consider their decisions. “And if they’d been wearing helmets, they’d probably still be up and walking around.

“Unless we have a really big campaign around alcohol and speed and helmets, then nothing will change.”              



An unforgiving stretch of asphalt

June 2019: Two motorcyclists suffer head injuries and are taken to hospital after crashing by the sea wall, around 5pm on Saturday. Both believed to be under infl uence of alcohol.

March 2019: 21-year-old motorcyclist Gordon Tua died after sustaining a head injury on the straight roadway. He had been driving toward Black Rock from Avarua.

February 2019: A female driver was admitted to the Rarotonga Hospital after sustaining head injuries during a crash at the seawall. Police said the crash appeared to be alcohol-related.

January 2019: Thomas Riley, 25, of Fiji, died in hospital from injuries he sustained in a motorbike crash at the seawall. Alcohol was involved.

December 2018: 38-year-old tourist Michael Kemp, of New Zealand, died after a motorbike crash, as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

Early indications pointed to speed as a significant factor.

November 2017: A 34-year-old foreign worker died at the Rarotonga hospital after crashing his motorcycle at the seawall in Nikao, failing to negotiate the bend just past the Met Office.

Police said alcohol and speed were involved.





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