'Just don't do it,' mother pleads

The mother of a University of Otago student killed riding a wheelie bin down Baldwin St in 2001 is devastated to hear young people are still doing it 18 years later.

Sharon North, of Blenheim, made an emotional plea to young people in Dunedin yesterday, after several were seen riding wheelie bins down Union St on Saturday.

"Don't do it. Just don't do it. That's all I can say.

"I'm very saddened to hear that they're doing it again.''

She had hoped the death of her daughter had served as an educational reminder of what not to do.

"That's been my biggest concern - that, as time goes by, people will forget what happened.''

Her daughter, 19-year-old physical education student Ana Louise North, died instantly in March 2001, when she and a friend smashed into a parked trailer in Baldwin St, while sledding down the street in a wheelie bin.

The ride left her male friend in Dunedin Hospital with serious head injuries.

Dunedin police attended an incident in Union St, between Queen and George Sts, about 2pm on Saturday, following reports of youths riding down the hill on top of wheelie bins, and a "near-miss'' with an oncoming car.

Mrs North said the loss of her daughter continued to affect everyone who knew her.

"It's 18 years since we lost Ana and there's still profound effects on us as a family.

"She's still a much missed and very beloved daughter.''

Mrs North described her as "fun-loving'', but not a daredevil.

"It was a waste of such a bright future. She was robbed. She had everything ahead of her.

"Our family is still living with all the grief.''

She said riding wheelie bins may seem like harmless fun, but it could have drastic consequences.

"I would say to them, don't do this to your family. Don't do it for a minute of fun.''

Many were scathing of Saturday's actions on social media, calling it idiotic, reckless, silly and dangerous behaviour.

One person suggested it would make more sense to have the police give lectures to educate students about the consequences of these actions.

"They [students] won't necessarily know that someone actually died doing exactly this. They probably thought they were being original.

"Instead of everyone just calling them idiots, why not educate them a little more, so they are not idiots?''

A police spokeswoman said no-one was injured, but given the 2001 incident, police were critical of the behaviour.

"Police would discourage any kind of behaviour like this that causes risk, not only to the people doing it, but others around them.''

She said a group of young people had been spoken to by officers and no further action had been taken.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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