Through a heat haze, the horrific scene of a fatal crash in
Taranaki, in which a van ploughed head-on into a group of
motorcyclists on a charity toy run. Photo / Kevin Bone
Two bikers were killed on a toy run for charity when
about half a dozen riders were hit head-on by a van yesterday.
Witnesses said a van overtook three cars stopped at an
intersection on Ketemarae Rd, near Normanby in south
Taranaki. The van was on the wrong side of the road when it
collided with the bikers, coming the other way round a
One of the dead men was named by friends as Kelly Reardon,
39, a wood merchant from Waitara.
Last night Reardon's former partner Adrienne Ahu was on her
way to Taranaki from Te Awamutu. She said they had an
11-year-old son and the news of his father's death was hard
"We've just marked a sad occasion as just over a year ago
Kelly's father died," she said. "Now we are dealing with
More than 100 bikers gathered near the crash and voted to
continue their ride and complete the toy deliveries for needy
children - in honour of their dead companions.
Bikers Rights Organisation NZ (Bronz) Taranaki chapter
president Murray Heal, who arrived with the fire service
after the smash, said the scene was a mess. "All the bikes
were piled up on the side of the road. A friend was
comforting Kelly after he had passed."
St John Ambulance spokesman Roger Blume said six men were
taken to Taranaki Base Hospital, one critically injured. One
of the men taken to hospital had been performing CPR on a
crash victim, when he suffered a heart attack himself.
Last night, a hospital spokeswoman said a 24-year-old man
with serious injuries was likely to be flown to Waikato
Two men, aged 64 and 42, were in stable conditions in
intensive care. Two more men, aged 22 and 27, were in
satisfactory condition, while a 21-year-old man had been
Heal said Reardon was leading one group of bikers and did not
have a chance to get out of the way. "The van crossed the
centre line and came out of nowhere. Kelly didn't have time
to blink let alone react.
"It was a very good day, good weather - it was just a stupid,
tragic accident. It was a bunch of innocent guys going for a
ride for a good cause. It was definitely no fault of the
The annual Round the Mountain toy run is organised by the
Bronz group, and yesterday - the first day of summer - they
travelled from New Plymouth via Bell Block, Inglewood and
Stratford. After the crash, they continued round the mountain
to end up at Oakura Hall.
Normanby Fibreglass Factory owner Paul Schrader said he raced
out from the back of his road corner factory to a scene of
"It was horrendous, horrendous, mate."
He said up to 10 mangled motorcycles and injured riders were
strewn across the road. One man was trapped beneath a gold
"boy racer-type" van and died at the scene.
He said some machines had disintegrated on impact and one
separated fuel tank sparked a small fire, which was put out
before the fire service arrived.
"I took my forklift over to try to take the van off the guy
but there was nothing much we could do," he said.
"There's been three recent fatalities within a 15km radius of
here in recent weeks. It's not good."
Boyce Luke was one of the motorists who had stopped, when he
was overtaken by the van.
The elderly Austin Rd resident was too shaken to talk with
the Herald on Sunday but told his wife: "It was like
dominoes. One went down, then another went flying over
The police serious crash unit is investigating.