Not guilty plea after toddler's driveway death

Kronos Gosney was an active and cheery boy who liked nothing better than splashing about in the water and watching Barney the dinosaur on TV.

The 18-month-old's life was cut short when he was run over in a South Auckland driveway one of about 30 such deaths nationwide since 2000.

In a rare move, his great-uncle George Mahanga, 56, who was allegedly backing his four wheel-drive when it hit Kronos, has been charged with careless driving causing death.

He pleaded not guilty in the Manukau District Court and will defend the charge later this year.

Family spokeswoman Jasmine Downes, Kronos' aunty and godmother, said she supported the prosecution.

Driveway deaths were a growing problem that needed to be dealt with, Mrs Downes told APNZ.

She would like to see 4WDs have reverse censors or cameras fitted, so drivers can see in their blindspots, and wanted public money pumped into public awareness campaigns about the issue.

"Because Kronos was such a joy, something good has to come out of it. His death can't just be all about tragedy."

Mrs Downes tears up when she remembers Kronos the little boy who lived with her for his first six months.

"You could have a room full of people in the foulest of moods. He walked through the door and it seemed like he pulled in all that negative energy and just burst out a whole lot of sunshine.

"You couldn't stay mad around him. He had that type of aura around him, his smile was just perfect."

Even when Kronos and his parents moved to the Bay of Islands, Mrs Downes would still still see him regularly.

She recalls "spoiling him rotten" on his frequent visits to her house, showing him old episodes of children's show Barney.

Tall for his age, Kronos skipped the crawling phase and was straight on his feet walking. He was also keen on playing in the water.

"In the 18 months he was here he experienced everything life could possibly have to offer. He went to [pre] school. He went to a party and got someone's beer off the table. He's travelled around all of the North Island."

Kronos, affectionately dubbed Simba by his family because of his lion-like cries at birth, died on July 20 last year.

Mrs Downes can still remember the call from her sister, Kronos' mother, who was screaming down the end of the phone as her boy was dying.

Mrs Downes raced to Middlemore Hospital, where doctors worked furiously to save Kronos. After a couple of hours waiting, she was told her nephew, the boy she thought of as another son, had gone.

"I just collapsed on the ground. My brain literally shut down. I could see people talking but I couldn't really hear it. There was a buzzing noise in my ears.

"I sat on the ground for 15 to 20 minutes. I closed off into myself."

For a while, Mrs Downes said she was lost, unable to cope with her grief. But after counselling and a trip to Australia, she's learning to deal with it.

"Kronos is now and will forever be missed and loved by all his family," she said.

Mahanga said he was too emotional to talk about what happened.

- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ

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