Crash survivor: Police are wrong

 

An innocent victim who survived a crash featured in a new road safety campaign says police have misled people and unfairly blamed a truck driver involved.

Simon Cathcart suffered a cracked spine and lacerations when he was sideswiped by another car and rolled at least six times, but walked away from the smash.

As part of a new online campaign, police have published a series of videos featuring real footage of crashes on New Zealand roads.

One appears to show a car clip the front of a truck as it attempts to merge lanes. The car slams into Mr Cathcart's car, pushing it back into the path of the truck and causing it to barrel-roll.

A police spokesman said the crash highlighted "what can happen when a truck driver is distracted by his mobile phone".

The description accompanying the video online further blames the truckie. "Real CCTV footage of a truck driver who crashes while using his mobile. Incredibly, nobody was killed," it reads.

Former policeman Simon Cathcart suffered a cracked spine in the crash that wrecked his car.
Former policeman Simon Cathcart suffered a cracked spine in the crash that wrecked his car.
But Mr Cathcart says the truck driver has been unfairly maligned.

"I'm amazed at why the truck driver is alleged to have caused the crash.

"The woman driver of the car that gets hit by the truck was the cause of the accident, not the truck driver.

"She undercut him suddenly and was catapulted into me.

"The road goes from three lanes into two and she was gunning it up the inside lane ... as I was passing the truck. She just cut straight in under him. He didn't have a chance."

Police subsequently told Mr Cathcart the female driver was charged with careless driving causing injury and that she pleaded guilty, he said. "When they closed the whole case out with me, they rang up and told me the result and never mentioned the truck driver.

"If they had charged more than one person I thought they would have told me," he said.

"He may have been on the phone, but there's no way he caused the accident.

"In actual fact ... he did an amazing job of staying straight, because I was literally right in his face. If he had jack-knifed, the carnage that followed would have been horrendous."

The crash occurred in the southbound lanes of State Highway 1 in South Auckland on July 26, 2012.

Mr Cathcart, a former policeman, managed to climb out the smashed windscreen of his car and walk away from the crash.

He had asked police to be allowed to see the video of the crash, but had been turned down, he said. The first time he saw it was on the Herald website on Saturday.

"Visually, it was a lot more intense than what I could remember. I remember looking at that car and knowing it was going to hit me. There was nothing I could do. I just gripped the steering wheel and then I was rolling, rolling, rolling."

Readers who were similarly annoyed with police blaming the truck driver in the video contacted the Herald over the weekend.

"It is difficult to see how the truck driver contributed to the crash, or could even reasonably have avoided it, cellphone distraction or not," Andre Terzaghi said.

Martin Giess shared a similar sentiment: "The car driver makes an incredibly foolish move cutting in front of the truck from the left, being entirely responsible for this horrific accident," he said.

Yesterday, police said the footage was released "as a public safety video".

"Nobody has been identified in the footage," said a police spokesman. "If anyone has any concerns about the video, they are welcome to contact police directly."

- By Sam Boyer of the New Zealand Herald

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