Operation Hannah: Police targeting vehicles at ski fields after 11-year-old's death

Hannah Francis was killed when a bus carrying 31 passengers crashed and rolled near Tūroa ski...
Hannah Francis was killed when a bus carrying 31 passengers crashed and rolled near Tūroa ski field. Photo: Supplied
A new police operation is targeting vehicles in and around ski fields after the tragic death of 11-year-old Hannah Francis in 2018.

Hannah was killed when a bus carrying 31 passengers crashed and rolled near Tūroa ski field.

From Tuesday this week through to Sunday, police, in partnership with Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency), will be at five major ski fields:

• Mt Ruapehu – Whakapapa
• Mt Ruapehu – Tūroa
• Mt Hutt
• Coronet Peak
• The Remarkables

Her death was "in every way avoidable", a police spokesperson said.

As part of Operation Hannah, police will be targeting passenger services vehicles to make sure they are in a safe condition, compliant and being operated in a safe manner.

They will also be checking drivers for signs of fatigue and impairment as well as making sure seatbelts are being worn.

Police have permission from the Francis and Bruton families to undertake the operation in Hannah's name.

"Operating a vehicle or PSV in a ski field environment is unique," said Inspector Mike Brooklands, police national manager commercial vehicle safety team.

"The roads to and from the ski fields are mountainous, are more likely to have fewer road safety infrastructures than our state highways, and more likely to have ice and snow on the road surface.

"These combined conditions place greater strain on a vehicle and driver ability."

Hannah Francis with her dad Matthew, step-mum Christina and step-brothers Joshua (left) and Caleb...
Hannah Francis with her dad Matthew, step-mum Christina and step-brothers Joshua (left) and Caleb Dukeson. Photo: Supplied
"I could not hold onto her"

Late last year, Hannah's father Matt, an engineer from Auckland's Green Bay, told an inquest it was damp and foggy at the ski field.

He said they took a bus on Ohakune Mountain Rd, an access road between the skifield and Ohakune.

"Hannah asked me if we could sit at the back of the bus and I said sure."

He said the road was windy before reaching a sharp hairpin bend, where problems with the 1994 Mitsubishi Fuso bus started.

He put Hannah's skis under their feet and a snowboard in the aisle.

"I knew we were going much too fast to take the corner safely," he said.

"I put both my arms around Hannah and pulled her down onto my lap."

He said the bus went into the other lane and hit a barrier hard on the road's right side.

"I felt and heard the impact and we were all thrown towards the right."

The bus then lurched violently to the left, impacting another barrier.

"Hannah was in his arms after the first impact but in the second impact, she was ripped away from her dad.

"I could not hold onto her."

Police did not charge the truck driver and WorkSafe did not probe the accident.

 

 

 

 

 

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