Fatal crash driver had offered taxi-type rides

The learner driver in a crash that killed a young Mosgiel brother and sister had previously offered illegal taxi rides via a controversial Facebook page.

Cameron Presland (20) was behind the wheel of his illegally modified Honda Integra when he lost control on a slight bend on the Southern Motorway, near Green Island, on Sunday, May 18.

Front-seat passenger Shannon Kiriau (22) and his sister Danielle (17) - the partner of Mr Presland - died at the scene.

Police said speed, alcohol, not wearing seatbelts, and the state of the vehicle - swapped for a van just days before the fatal smash - were factors in the crash.

The Otago Daily Times has viewed screenshots of Mr Presland offering rides with his previous vehicle via the Facebook page, Dunedin Sober Drivers.

Last year, police confirmed officers were monitoring the page, and users could be slapped with a $10,000 fine if, in exchange for cash, they offered an unlicensed passenger service.

In December, Dunedin police warned about 60 drivers offering passenger services.

They would not comment this week when asked whether Mr Presland, who is on a learner's licence, was one of those drivers.

Dunedin relieving area commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said ''any potential link between the driver and the Sober Driver Facebook site will be explored as part of the wider investigation [into the accident that killed the Kiriau siblings]''.

''It is too early to comment on this aspect at this stage of the inquiry. Facts established as part of the inquiry will dictate what, if any, charges are laid.''

Police were not in a position to confirm Mr Presland's blood or alcohol reading, he said.

Mr Presland, who is recovering in Milton, was not available for an interview, his mother, Ange Pedofsky, told the ODT yesterday.

Many of the more than 3000 Facebook page members argue the service is safer than walking and cheaper than a taxi ride.

Last week, another Facebook page, Dunedin Sober Drivers Save Lives, was launched following the deaths of the siblings.

Those users argued lives would be saved if police stopped threatening large fines, and supported the unlicensed passenger service.

In response, Dunedin road policing manager Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall said a driver must hold a passenger service licence to legally carry passengers, on any road, for hire or reward.

For a first offence, a driver and passengers could be fined up to $10,000.

For a second, or subsequent, offence, the fine could be up to $25,000.

The vehicle could be impounded.

''We want to discourage this. There are perfectly good taxis out there.''

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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