An unrestrained baby sitting on their mother's lap was thrown
into the back of the car and is now fighting for life after a
crash that police believe involved speed, overcrowding and
two bald tyres.
The incident - on the first day of Road Safety week yesterday
- has been called "absolutely tragic" by a road safety
Police said five of the six people, including a 3-year-old,
travelling in the Honda hatchback car were wearing or sitting
in approved restraints.
But the infant was sitting in its mother's lap when the
west-bound car slid across State Highway 4 on a 65km/h corner
and into a bank at Kopaki, about 23km southeast of Te Kuiti.
"Unrestrained, the baby has been thrown into the rear
interior of the car and suffered critical injuries," said
Waikato road policing manager Freda Grace.
A person known to the family, who are believed to be from
Taumarunui, was the first on the scene and is understood to
have taken the infant, who is less than a year old, to Te
The baby was airlifted to Starship children's hospital in
The baby's 3-year-old sibling and their mother were taken to
Waikato Hospital by ambulance with minor to moderate injuries
while three other adults were treated at the scene.
"Their injuries are insignificant next to the child that was
unrestrained," said Ms Grace.
Crash investigators are working on establishing what, if any
part, two bald tyres on the front of the car played in the
driver losing control on the downhill stretch of road.
Ms Grace said it appeared the car was travelling faster than
the advised limit and she described the state of the front
tyres as "not in the best condition".
She said this was an example where the driver had not taken
all the necessary precautions.
"We talk about road policing being everybody's responsibility
and that actually starts with the driver of the motor vehicle
in the first place."
Caroline Perry, a spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake,
said parents had a responsibility to their children to ensure
they are protected in vehicles and in proper restraints.
"Allowing your child to ride without one is putting them at
huge risk and can have devastating consequences," she said.
"This is an absolutely tragic incident. Unfortunately it does
demonstrate that children can suffer horrific injuries if
they are not properly restrained in a vehicle."
The crash yesterday at 8.30am was part of a horror run on the
Last night a woman died in a car crash on State Highway 3 at
Ohaupo, near Hamilton.
Two cars travelling in opposite directions collided about
5.50pm, police said.
Another person was airlifted to Waikato Hospital with
- James Ihaka, NZ Herald