Death spurs Street Smart restart

Cromwell teenager Kelan Stroud was 17 when he died in a car crash on State Highway 8 on March 27....
Cromwell teenager Kelan Stroud was 17 when he died in a car crash on State Highway 8 on March 27. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The death of a teenager in a Cromwell car crash has sparked the restart of a road safety programme, amid a flood of support from the community.

Cromwell youth Kelan Stroud was only 17 years old when a crash involving two trucks and a car on State Highway 8 near the Cromwell Gorge picnic area claimed his life.

Within a week of his death in March, Kelan’s family teamed up with the Tony Quinn Foundation and driver education programme Street Smart to launch a Givealittle campaign to support young drivers through practical education and experience.

Tony Quinn Motorsport Parks group chief executive Josie Spillane said the campaign had already raised more than $20,000 thanks to donations from over 300 businesses and individuals this past month.

The funds raised, with an additional $750,000 from the Tony Quinn Foundation, would go towards resuming and helping deliver the Street Smart programme at Cromwell’s Highlands Motorsport Park.

Twenty-eight children and their caregivers would have the chance to take part during school holidays beginning on July 16, at a subsidised rate of $149.

The practical, hands-on programme was launched in 2018 but a challenging economic environment forced it to go into hibernation in March 2022.

Ms Spillane said Cromwell was deeply affected by Kelan’s death.

"As parents ourselves, we recognise that the Strouds’ grief could have struck any of us.

"We were humbled to be entrusted by Kelan’s family to honour his memory and provide a meaningful experience for local youth."

Kelan had held his restricted licence for only one month before the crash.

In a post on social media, his mother Tracy Stroud said she wanted to acknowledge everyone who had been affected by the tragedy and thanked the community for their love, support and generosity.

"Kelan was such a kind-hearted, cool young man, with big plans.

"I am so proud to say that he was my son.

"Michael and I cannot think of a better legacy to leave."

Highlands Motorsport Park founder Tony Quinn said it was time to move the needle on road deaths in New Zealand.

In 2022 drivers under the age of 25 were primarily responsible for more than 3000 crashes.

"Young drivers are vulnerable on New Zealand roads.

"Life can change in an instant when you’re behind the wheel.

"We must better equip our youth to handle any situation they encounter."

Supercars had also jumped on board with a programme to involve drivers and teams throughout the year to elevate awareness.

Street Smart trustee Greg Murphy said he was incredibly grateful for the support the programme was receiving because it could change outcomes by investing in the future.