Mia Pusch’s Boyfriend & His Father To Visit NZ

A group of friends who knew  Mia Pusch, the German cyclist who was killed by a truck in central North Island in July, have announced that they are to visit New Zealand in July to pay homage to her memory:

“Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We would like to inform you that we (Jonathan Guggenbichler, Mia’s boyfriend and his father Norbert Guggenbichler) will travel to New Zealand in memory of Mia .

We will arrive in Wellington at the 23rd July at abaout 2.00 p.m. and fly back 3rd August from Wellington. We will visit the place where Mia died to bring some flowers and to bid farewell to her. We would be glad to get to know people who mourn like us for Mia. Hoping to give a signal with our visit, a sign to strengthen consciousness that every human life is precious, we want to show clearly, that we must make every effort to protect the future of human beings and our blue planet.

Only a death which allows new life is not in vain. We hope that from the grief over Mia’s death something originates, which is able to provide more security for people travelling in New Zealand or anywhere else.”

A number of  cyclists have been killed and injured on New Zealand’s roads, their deaths have been attributed to motorists’ aggressiveness, careless driving practices and drunkenness.

German tourist Stephan Stoermer had been on a cycling world tour since 2006, he had been safely winding his way through 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia since early 2006 before arriving in New Zealand. He died a week before his tour was scheduled to end when he was hit by a logging truck near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on March 12, 2009.

Another German cyclist died on 6 August 2009 in a hit an run at Leeston, 45 km south west of Christchurch. 34 year old Jens Richardon had been living in NZ for a few years. He must have been quite familiar with the peculiarities of the roads and the local driving habits. His body was eventually discovered by a passing motorist at 7.30pm and police located the offender’s car, a dark blue BMW 3251, 20km away.

The motorist responsible for Jens’ death  was seen slumped over a bar shortly before the crash. Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton, 40, of Southbridge, pleaded guilty on 6 November 2009 to driving under the influence of alcohol causing death and failing to stop for an injury accident. He had drunk around 10 pints of beer at a bar in Rolleston from around 2.30pm that day. He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking.

Incredibly the judge took pity on him a gave him a sentence of home detention.

But soft sentences are sadly the norm in crashes involving cyclists.

Drunk driver, 71 year old Alison Downer, bagged a lenient two year sentence for her 4th conviction after she hit and killed Frank van Kampen as he was cycling along State Highway 1 in Te Horo on September 18 2009.  Mr van Kampen’s partner wept through the hearing at Palmerston North District Court and said that she was disgusted by the sentence. Can you believe that her defence lawyer was alleged to have told the judge that “this was not the worst type of offending because there was only one victim.”

And in the ‘Tamaki Drive Carnage’ a female student lost her licence for 6 months and was ordered to pay $1,000 to each of her victims after she ploughed into a pack of cyclists travelling along Tamaki Drive, Auckland. The cyclists, one of whom suffered long term brain injuries and may never be able to work again, said that the sentence was far too lenient.

We wish Mia’s friends good luck with their trip and hope it will help them come to terms with their terrible loss. If in the process they manage to raise awareness of the perils that cyclists face on roads in New Zealand and bring about a change in driving habits and the treatment of offenders then Mia may not have died in vain.

Update 31 May 2010

The Wanganui truck driver responsible for Mia’s death has had his licence suspended for just a year and has been ordered to pay a measly $5,000 in reparation to her family (source)

2 thoughts on “Mia Pusch’s Boyfriend & His Father To Visit NZ

  1. Thanks for the update Patrick, it’s heartening to see that they were so well received and have some good memories to take away with them. Mia’s death was so tragic.

    We wish you the very best with making New Zealand’s roads safer and with CAN’s proposal for the new law.

    We’d like to see the trucking companies made to take more responsibility for the practices of their drivers and we’re keeping an eye on the relationship between low pay and employers’ imposition of unsafer working practices to increased death rates and how this will be regarded in New Zealand.

  2. I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan and Norbert in Wellington yesterday. I admire their bravery and spirit in coming to New Zealand, and hope they take some happy memories away as well as the sad ones.
    Here’s how CAN, the Cycling Advocates’ Network, is working to make NZ’s roads safer.
    We are focused on 3 areas.
    1. safer speeds,
    2. share with care,
    3. invest in cycling.
    We are working on a Vulnerable Road User Protection Law proposal, which would create create an incentive for more motor vehicle drivers to exercise greater caution around vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.
    We also want the Coroner to investigate this crash to find out why it happened and what we can learn from it.
    More at http://can.org.nz/

Comments are closed.