Cellphone usage and the
lack of a seatbelt are being scrutinised by police
investigating Saturday's Te Puna crash which killed 26-year-old
Bay mother Tracey O'Brien.
The head of Western Bay road policing, Senior Sergeant Ian
Campion, said the preliminary crash report indicated weather,
speed, alcohol and road conditions were not contributing
factors, and the investigation now centred around two main
"We believe Ms O'Brien was manipulating her cellphone while
driving and also believe she was not wearing her seat belt.
The preliminary indications are these factors contributed to
Mr Campion said he was "absolutely gutted" at the number of
fatal road crashes this year.
He said there had been six fatal crashes on Western Bay roads
this year, the same number for the whole of last year. Apart
from one, which involved a medical condition, every one of
the other 11 crashes were "absolutely preventable".
"It's very frustrating and hugely disappointing for police
and our road safety partners. We [police] take it very
personally when there is even one serious injury crash or
fatality as we are out there every day trying hard to make
sure people are able to get to and from the Western Bay
safely," he said.
In 2013, there were 867 crashes across the district, 50
resulting in serious injuries and six deaths, and so far this
year there has been 279 crashes, including six deaths and 25
serious injury crashes.
Mr Campion said police could only do so much and people
needed to take responsibility for their own driving and heed
the warnings about the "fatal five" factors which led to
crashes - speed, alcohol, not wearing seatbelts, using
cellphones and other distractors, and non-compliance of the
rules at intersections.
Ms O'Brien died when her car crossed the centreline and
crashed into a people mover at 12.30pm on Saturday.
Her two children Faith, 3, and Phoenix, 4, were injured in
the crash, and remain in Starship Hospital.
Phoenix is recovering from major surgery to repair his broken
pelvis and thighs and also broke his arm, while his sister
had a minor head injury.
- Bay of Plenty