Mia Pusch – Truck Driver To Be Charged

The NZPA has told the news that charges have been brought in connection with the death of Mia Pusch (right) :

“A truck driver has been charged over the death of a German tourist while cycling in the Manawatu.

Mia Pusch, 19, who had been backpacking through New Zealand, died on January 5 after being hit by a truck while riding along State Highway 3 near Bulls.

A 66-year-old Wanganui man was today charged with careless driving causing death and was due to appear in Marton District Court on May 5.

Ms Pusch, who arrived in New Zealand last October, described the perils cyclists in New Zealand faced in the final entry of her online blog on December 30.

When one is a cyclist on New Zealand roads, one is not only torn from one’s daydreams by diving-bombing magpies but is more often threatened by a more nasty species that really requires more attention: truck drivers,” Ms Pusch wrote. “They swerve past the cyclists who are struggling under their own steam at break-neck speed mainly within only a half-metre to a metre gap, all the while aggressively honking their horn.””

A number of  cyclists have been killed and injured on New Zealand’s roads recently, 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.

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

But soft sentences are 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.

See also our post: Facebook group set up in memory of Mia Pusch