Tourist charged after triple fatality

The scene on Saturday of the triple fatality near Rakaia. Photo by Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
The scene on Saturday of the triple fatality near Rakaia. Photo by Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
A close-knit Christchurch community is reeling after a mother and two young girls were killed in a car crash, as the country's top road cop says every death is a failure by police.

The Queen's Birthday Weekend road toll stood at five last night following the deadly crash at Rakaia, which killed Sumner woman Sally Summerfield (49), her daughter Ella (12) and Ella's friend Abigail Hone (12).

Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane, who was driving, was seriously injured and remains in hospital in Christchurch.

A Dutch tourist has been charged over the crash at an intersection on Saturday.

The Summerfield family, who are well known in the seaside suburb of Sumner, were taking Abigail with them to the Ohau ski area for the long weekend.

They were spending the weekend with two other Sumner families.

The Summerfields' teenage son, Sam, stayed at home with his grandfather, Murray Summerfield, to study for exams.

It is unknown whether Mr Summerfield, a dentist, is aware of his wife's and daughter's deaths as he struggles to regain consciousness.

He was due to undergo heart surgery to fix a tear in his aorta.

He was ''pretty bloody battered'' but had escaped brain or spinal injuries, close friend Wyn Mossman, a co-director with Mr Summerfield of Ferrymead Dental Clinic, said.

The Summerfields were a ''gorgeous'' family, Mr Mossman said.

''It's an enormous loss for the community.''

The couple had met in Mrs Summerfield's native England, where her husband worked for 10 years before returning to New Zealand in 2004 with his family.

A 52-year-old Dutch tourist has been charged with three counts of careless driving causing death, and one count of careless driving causing injury. He allegedly drove through a stop sign.

He will appear in Christchurch District Court tomorrow.

Their deaths brought the holiday road toll to five, a figure police Assistant Commissioner of road policing Dave Cliff said was not only ''hugely disappointing'' but a failure on the part of police.

''We have got staff out all over the country who are determined to keep the levels of road damage to a minimum ... so every time we get a death it's a failure,'' he said.

''The whole intent of what we're doing is trying to stop human misery and, unfortunately, we've failed in respect of those five deaths.''

The holiday road period runs until 6am tomorrow, and Mr Cliff called on motorists to ''drive as if their lives depend on it, because they do''.

In other fatal crashes at the weekend, 36-year-old Eketahuna man Adrian James Ihaka died when his car crashed into a power pole.

Auckland woman Robyn Eilleen Derrick, died after tourists in a camper van allegedly crossed the centre line near Whitianga on Friday evening.

Last year, there were no road deaths during Queen's Birthday Weekend.

• A woman whose vehicle was hit head-on by another travelling the wrong way on Auckland's southern motorway on Friday morning has died.

Karen Yin Yong (49), of Mount Wellington, died at Auckland Hospital surrounded by family after her life support was switched off.

By Patrice Dougan, of APNZ.

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