Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Al
Dickie gets his message across at a checkpoint yesterday.
Photo by Linda Robertson.
Senior Southern policeman Al Dickie says all drivers must
realise death and mutilation can be the result of their
A top policeman has made a heartfelt plea following the
recent carnage on southern roads.
Senior Sergeant Al Dickie, the Clutha-Taieri area response
manager, has seen plenty of crashes during his 36-year-police
career and, says unfortunately, he is still seeing them.
This month, he has attended several serious road crashes,
including co-ordinating the crash scene following the double
fatality on the Southern Motorway in which a brother and
''The potential for fatals or serious crashes is there all
the time,'' he told the Otago Daily Times this week.
Earlier in his career, he was dubbed ''Dr Death'' after
attending so many multiple crashes in South Otago.
''I have seen so many of them, I think I can speak with
In a high impact crash, ''people die or sustain
''Passersby do what they can to comfort and maintain life in
trying circumstances until help arrives - broken bodies,
screams, blood and guts and sometimes mutilation.''
Emergency services - including volunteer firefighters and
ambulance officers - are roused from their sleep while
wondering on the way if ''they may know the victims''.
''Dead bodies, broken people in various states of pain and
anguish and loved ones pleading for help when the troops
''Onlookers are becoming traumatised and this can extend to
the emergency workers, with some opting to throw in the towel
as these sights are not for them.''
Firefighters worked to extract people, then paramedics helped
to stabilise patients before taking them to hospital, where
doctors and nurses tried to save the victims while dealing
with ''traumatised friends and family''.
''They all do such a great job in a determined and dedicated
way, but some victims are simply a lost cause, due to their
Police also had the ''unsavoury task'' of informing family.
''My colleagues and I hate this duty - telling people their
loved ones won't be coming home,'' he said.
''You try to plan how you are going to break the news and
wonder how people will react, but every situation is
Crashes also impacted on emergency services staff, especially
when the victims were children of similar ages to their own.
Snr Sgt Dickie said it was hard to quantify just how many
lives had been saved by police intervening in cases such as a
drunk driver, a speeding motorist, someone not wearing a seat
belt, or driving an unsafe vehicle.
''People say police are just revenue-gathering when out and
about issuing infringements. Codswallop.''
Some drivers would have avoided a crash because of the timely
intervention of the police - ''as much as you may have
disliked being relieved of a few bob at the time''.
On the open road, there was only 3m between life and death.
All motorists were ''potential killers'' if they exercised
poor judgement, he said. Offenders faced disqualifications,
fines or imprisonment, but the mental anguish of harming
another person ''stays with you far longer''.
''If you have got a conscience, there will be depression,
sleepless nights and general unhappiness and all because you
exercised poor judgement.
''Hopefully, you will have learned one of life's hard lessons
and will exercise greater care and consideration in the
future or face a repeat of the heartache like all the others
affected by your actions.''
Anyone who witnessed a driver making poor judgement should
''tell them to pull their head in or report other dangerous
road users to the police ... it might just save a life or
two'', Snr Sgt Dickie said.
''How will you feel if that vehicle goes on to kill and you
did nothing to stop it?''
Young people should never encourage a driver to see how fast
a vehicle could go or to drink and drive.
If the driver would not listen to a passenger's plea to slow
down or stop, they should tell the driver they were going to
vomit, he said.
''They [the driver] will soon stop as they do not like their
pride and joy being messed up.''
He urged drivers not to exercise poor judgement, and for
passengers to wear seat belts as ''people die without them -
I've seen it''.
''A crash occurs and this is when you change many lives
forever, including your own, if you survive. And sometimes it
is better not to, when you see the long-term injuries
sustained, with some ending up with absolutely no quality of
''Road menaces come in all shapes, sizes and ages - not just
the young. We all have a responsibility,'' he said.