Licence breaches before fatal crash

August 25, 2017 | By More

A teen driver received three infringement notices for breaching the terms of his restricted licence before his fatal head-on crash with a cyclist.

Robert Kruger, 18, has admitted that his careless driving killed 33-year-old cyclist Thomas John Alton in a crash on a Port Hills road on February 20.

Kruger pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court, and Judge Tony Couch remanded him on bail for sentencing on October 30.

During the remand, a probation officer will prepare a pre-sentence report and Kruger may meet Mr Alton’s family at a restorative justice conference. Judge Couch also asked for an assessment of Kruger’s suitability for a sentence of home detention or community detention.

About 6.45pm on February 20, Kruger was driving a Mazda on Parklands Drive. The weather was fine and sunny. The sun was low in the sky but police inquiries have shown it was not a factor in the crash.

He was driving on a restricted licence and he had an unlicensed passenger with him in the vehicle.

Mr Alton left his home in Parklands Drive, travelling downhill on his bicycle. He rode the bike regularly and knew the road well. The collision happened about 150m from his home.

Kruger was travelling too fast as he rounded a left-hand bend and veered across the centre line onto the wrong side. The recommended speed on the blind corner is 35kmh. Two parked cars narrowed the available road.

Mr Alton was forced slightly towards the centre line as he approached the corner, but he was still within his lane as he passed the parked car.

As Kruger came out of the corner, he was travelling on the wrong side of the road, and Mr Alton had no time to react and avoid the car. He struck the centre of the front of the car, and police prosecutor Sergeant Grant Neal told the court he received significant injuries.

Local residents quickly came to his aid, and some had medical experience. He was transported to hospital in critical condition.

Mr Alton was kept alive for several days in order for his organs to be harvested and for family members to travel from Britain. His life support was switched off on February 24.

Sergeant Neal said: “Kruger was interviewed on May 17 and admitted he had failed to remain on his side of the road as he was probably travelling a bit fast around the corner and either straddling or over the centre line.”

Kruger was deeply remorseful and expressed his desire to meet Mr Alton’s widow. The police hoped that could be arranged at a restorative justice meeting.

Kruger was warned for his breach of his restrictive licence conditions by carrying a passenger.

Kruger has not previously appeared in court, but police said he had previously received three infringement notices for breaches of his restricted licence.

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