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Driver fatigue blamed for crash near Picton that killed 7 family members



A coroner has found seven members of the same family died when their van crashed head on into a truck near Picton last year because the driver was fatigued.

The van carrying nine people crashed after crossing the centre line of State Highway 1 on 19 June 2022.

Paul Brown, his wife Diseree Lagud, Mark John Lagud,15, Flordeliza Dolar, 19, Divina Dolar, 47, Li-Hsuan Chen, and Mika Ella Chen Clariman, aged six months, died in the crash.

Coroner Alison Mills found the driver, Paul Brown, had been experiencing microsleep, when a person drifts in and out of sleep without knowing it.

“These naps can last between three and five seconds and are the main cause of fatigue-related crashes where the driver runs off the road.

“If this happens while driving it can cost you and your loved ones their lives.”

She concluded Brown had no more than three hours and 50 minutes sleep in the 24 hours before the accident.

Although it was possible he may have had slightly more sleep between Timaru and Rolleston Mills, she said she accepted it would have been minimal and would not have been meaningful deep sleep.

The van’s break filaments showed no signs of hot shock, indicating they were not illuminated and that the brakes were not used during the crash.

Nor was there any physical evidence Brown reacted or made an effort to avoid colliding with the oncoming truck.

Brown and his wife Diseree Lagud, together with seven members of their extended family had planned the trip to attend Brown’s aunt’s funeral in Gore, which was held the day before the fatal crash, and to visit his mother in Dunedin.

It was meant to be a chance to show family visiting from the Philippines parts of the South Island.

Brown was described as a “very safe driver” who always kept to the left because it was safer, was not known to drive fast and always told passengers to wear their seat belts, the report said.

On the morning of the fatal crash, Brown woke his family at 2.30am and told them to get in the van. Brown had had no sleep because he was talking to his friend.

His wife’s 26-year-old son Pedro Lagud Clariman commented he thought they were going to stay and sleep at the friend’s house until about 5am, but Brown wanted to get to Picton early and have breakfast before catching the midday ferry.

Brown’s friend confirmed in the Coroner’s report that he offered the family a chance to stay despite not having enough beds for everyone. He and Brown spent the night chatting as they had not seen each other for four years.

He provided hot drinks and food but no alcohol.

He had no concerns about the family’s choice to continue driving after they left.

The family left Rolleston at around 3am with Pedro in the driver’s seat for almost four hours, though he pulled over for a 15-minute break because he felt sleepy.

Brown took over the driving.

Richard Thompson, the driver of the truck and trailer unit, said as he came around the bend on State Highway 1 he saw a van coming towards him which kept coming across the centre line.

He said he tried to avoid the van by hugging the left side of the road and applying the brakes but was unable to avoid the collision.

He lost steering of the truck as the wheel locked up while he was pulling hard on it.

The truck ended up in a ditch on the opposite side of the road and rolled over.

The crash knocked the van backwards about 20 metres. It was extensively damaged, including the driver’s side being mangled and pushed back and over to the right passengers side.

At the time of the accident, Pedro remembers dozing and listening to the noise of the van. He could not hear anything then suddenly felt and heard an impact.

He opened his eyes and felt his legs and face hurting.

Pedro’s six-month-old daughter Mika was not restrained properly in her car seat. The baby capsule was found lodged against the pillar by the driver’s seat and was severely damaged.

Several members of the public including two nurses arrived at the scene and attempted to provide first aid and assess injuries.

When Pedro managed to get out of the van he was in extreme shock.

Coroner Alison Mills said the accident was avoidable and a reminder of the real risks of driving when tired or fatigued.

She encouraged drivers to be aware of the signs of fatigue, plan journeys that did not involve travelling excessive distances and make sure they got sufficient sleep.

Source: RNZ

Photo: Trish Rawlings

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Christchurch terror attack inquest: ‘Significant blind spot’ relating to St John’s specialist paramedics – coroner



A woman who was forced to leave the side of her bleeding husband following the terror attack at Christchurch’s Linwood Islamic Centre only discovered he had died the following day after seeking help from then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Saira Patel’s husband Musa Patel was one of seven people who died after being shot at the Linwood Islamic Centre, following the massacre at nearby Al Noor Mosque on 15 March 2019.

Supported by her son, Patel told the inquest into the deaths that she and her husband were praying in separate parts of the mosque on the day of the attack.

Patel said she thought a tyre had blown when she heard a loud bang. A baby began to cry, and she could soon smell gunpowder.

She yelled, “Someone is shooting, someone is shooting” as people ran to escape.

When Patel found her bleeding husband, she told the Coroners Court she could hear him saying his “last prayer” as if he knew he was about to die.

Imam Hafiz Musa Patel

Musa Patel died at Linwood Islamic Centre on 15 March 2019. Photo: Facebook/ US Embassy Suva

She said she was forced to leave when police arrived and started treating Musa Patel, an order that distressed her to this day.

“I think any dying person who is about to leave this world would be very desperately craving and needing to be close to their loved ones. My presence during his final moments would have made a big difference in my life and I think maybe his last moments of departing this world,” she said.

She did not know her husband had died until the following day, when she approached then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who led her to a counsellor.

Patel said the counsellor showed her a photo of an unidentified man in hospital who was not her husband.

“I knew then that my husband was dead. There was no-one else who could have identified him, and this last unidentified man was my last hope,” she said.

Patel thanked the doctors and paramedics who did everything they could to console her husband in his final moments.

“I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

“I was trying to be with him in that last moment but maybe they were chosen to be with him.”

Dr Alison Wooding from nearby Piki Te Ora Medical Centre was one of the doctors who treated Musa Patel when staff went to the mosque to help the injured.

She told the court he was meant to be the first victim taken to hospital but realised he had died after he was moved onto a stretcher.

Wooding said she and others were talking to Musa Patel the entire time they cared for him, but she did not recall him ever responding.

Police officers gave evidence on Tuesday saying Musa Patel had been able to communicate with them at first but his condition deteriorated over time.

Wooding told the court she felt apprehensive and worried about the situation at the mosque, but safe and protected between armed and vigilant police officers.

29th November 2023 Iain McGregor/The Press/Pool Christchurch Masjidain Attack Coronial hearing. Coroner Brigitte Windley.

Deputy chief coroner Brigitte Windley. Photo: The Press / Iain McGregor

‘Significant blind spot’ relating to St John emergency response team – coroner

The coroner has queried a “significant blind spot” in the way St John ambulance officers work with specialist paramedics trained to work in dangerous situations.

Deputy chief coroner Brigitte Windley questioned St John duty manager Bruce Chubb about the organisation’s response massacre.

Two Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) paramedics were among ambulance officers who went to the scene of the shooting in Linwood Avenue.

No-one from St John attended the Al Noor scene in a SERT capacity.

Chubb told the Coroners Court that SERT teams worked under police and it was not uncommon for St John not to know when they had been requested, where they were, or what they were doing.

In response, coroner Windley said: “My concern is that that creates a significant blind spot for St John, doesn’t it?”

“Isn’t it that these are critical resources in terms of closing that care gap for people who are dying and injured and being able to get a response in, and you’ve got no visibility about where they are and even if in fact they’ve been deployed?”

041223 CHRIS SKELTON Witness, Bruce Chubb from St John command and control during the Christchurch terror attack inquest held at the Christchurch Justice precinct.

St John’s Bruce Chubb. Photo: Stuff / Chris Skelton

Chubb said he was not suggesting it was “okay” that St John did not know where SERT officers were but said it was the practice at the time.

He was not aware of any changes to the SERT policy since the terror attack.

Chubb told the coroner he thought it was “always nice to know” where resources were, to which she replied, “I would suggest it’s more than nice to know. I would suggest that St John needs to know”.

Chubb earlier told the inquest that he believed general ambulance officers should not have entered either mosque immediately after the shootings because of the safety risk.

Windley said the court was concerned St John ambulance officers had to breach the organisation’s policy in order to get an emergency response in place.

“Do you agree that that’s fundamentally a problem?” she asked.

“Yes,” Chubb replied.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chubb told counsel for families Kathryn Dalziel that the terror attack was a catastrophic event that he did not expect and was never prepared for.

“I don’t believe any of my colleagues were either, so it was fundamentally overwhelming,” he said.

The inquest will examine the following 10 issues over seven weeks:

  • Events of 15 March 2019 from the commencement of the attack until the terrorist’s formal interview by police
  • Response times and entry processes of police and ambulance officers at each mosque
  • Triage and medical response at each mosque
  • The steps that were taken to apprehend the offender
  • The role of, and processes undertaken by, Christchurch Hospital in responding to the attack
  • Coordination between emergency services and first responders
  • Whether the terrorist had any direct assistance from any other person on 15 March 2019
  • If raised by immediate family, and to the extent it can be ascertained, the final movements and time of death for each of the deceased
  • The cause of death for each of the victims and whether any deaths could have been avoided
  • Whether Al Noor Mosque emergency exit door in the southeast corner of the main prayer room failed to function during the attack and, if so, why?

The inquest continues.


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Protests raise questions about next year’s Waitangi day



In the wake of protests over the new government’s policies on co-governance and the Treaty, the head of the Waitangi National Trust Board says it is important Treaty partners front up and have a conversation on 6 February.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says he intends to visit for Waitangi Day, as does ACT’s David Seymour.

The protests taking place across New Zealand on Tuesday were part of a “National Māori Action Day”, led by Te Pāti Māori and iwi, to challenge the government over its policies on the Treaty of Waitangi, and other policies affecting Māori.

Waitangi National Trust Board chairperson Pita Tipene expected for that sentiment to flow through on Waitangi Day.

“Clearly, the Māori people see it as an attack on the Treaty of Waitangi and the constitutional basis of this country,” Tipene said.

These include switching from Māori to English names on various government departments, rewriting legislation to make mentions of the principles of the Treaty more specific, and progressing an ACT bill calling for the principles to be set down under its own prescription, rather than decades of jurisprudence.


Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene

Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene Photo: RNZ

Tipene told Checkpoint there was no invite list for politicians per se, and the doors of the Trust were open for all to come along.

“Given that it is a Waitangi Day commemorations period, it’s really important that the Treaty of Waitangi is the focus, and therefore the Treaty partners should front up and have a conversation.”

He would be disappointed, but not surprised, if parties in government were not represented there on the day.

“It has happened before where governments or political parties have chosen not to front up at Waitangi.”


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Te Pāti Māori protests – Day of action focuses on new government’s Māori policies



Police says protesters are causing widespread delays at key transport networks around the North Island, but there have been no arrests so far.

A police spokesperson says commuters should allow travel time this morning, with Te Pāti Māori’s planned protests disrupting travel routes.

There are large gatherings in Tāmaki Makaurau and central Wellington, along with a number of other cities and towns.

The spokesperson says Auckland motorists are advised there are heavy delays on parts of the motorway network this morning.

The demonstrations are in response to Te Pāti Māori’s call for action against the new government’s policies on co-governance and the Treaty.


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