Rodney Times : February 8th 2011
5 RODNEY TIMES, FEBRUARY 8, 2011 NEWS PHONE LESLEY 09 424 2210 For a FREE MEASURE & QUOTE WINDOW DÉCOR LTD RODNEY Mobile "In-your-home" service 20 years in interior design More samples than the average store Special Pensioners discount BLINDS & CURTAINS Purchasing Beautiful UP TO 40% OFF VENETIANS / VERTICALS WOODENS AT FACTORY PRICES FREE CURTAIN MAKING (OVER $30m) couldn't be easier 3454334AB Ph 021 234 7766 GOLD RUSH GOLD RUSH Join the 21st Century Your gold has never been worth so much! Bring us all your old, broken or unwanted gold jewellery. WE WILL PAY YOU CASH ON THE SPOT The Plaza Whangaparaoa Warkworth Village CNR Mill Lane & Elizabeth St vein glory Let us take care of your unsightly veins If you have varicose veins, The Vein Centre offer advice and a variety of treatments. As a specialist clinic, we offer all forms of treatment including an onsite hospital. * Fully licensed and Souther n Cross Affliated Phone 09 444-5858 or visit: www.veins.co.nz Research findings Early findings of a Puhoi to Pakiri area visitor strategy research pro- gramme will be pres- ented at a public meeting tonight at Ascension Vineyard in Matakana at 6pm. Business and tourism owner/operators, resi- dents and community members are invited. Discussions include a visitor survey, a survey of local community and residents' opinions, and a survey of tourism and business operators. For inquiries email Carolyn Deuchar at Carolyn.deuchar@aut. ac.nz or phone (09) 921-9999 extn 8892. Crash unit investigator calls it a day By CARALISE MOORE Smash specialist: Riverhead resident and former police sergeant Stuart Kearns has hung up his badge after 28 years with the police, much of that time working in the serious crash unit. Long serving: Stuart Kearns started his policing career in 1982 on this traffic motorcycle. Twenty-eight years of traffic policing has taken its toll on Stuart Kearns. He resigned from the North Auckland serious crash unit to spend more time with fam- ily and escape the stresses of his job. After seeing more than 1000 deaths on the road, gathering evidence, pro- secuting offenders, and having to share devastating news to victim's families, it's no wonder Mr Kearns says he needs a break from the job. It was affecting my health and sleep, getting calls at 3am to fatal incidents. I want to spend more time with my family and doing other things,'' Mr Kearns says. The Riverhead resident has a 23-year-old daughter who recently married, an 18-year- old son just accepted into Police College, a 17-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, and lives with his part- ner and her son. Starting with the Ministry of Transport as a traffic cop on a motorbike in 1982, by 1987 Mr Kearns was specialising in fatal acci- dents, studying at the North- western University in Chicago. In the first few years I had been to more than 300 fatals when we had around 700 dying on the roads every year,'' he says. Now we have a much lower fatal rate. That is mostly to do with the cars now being designed far bet- ter, and road improvements like median barriers. Also it has a lot to do with conges- tion on roads. Congestion slows everyone down.'' Taking a short break from traffic duties when the Trans- port Ministry merged with police in 1992, Mr Kearns did general duties in Otara for a few years. I'd go back tomorrow to work as a cop in Otara. You'd go to domestic incidents, many were Pacific Islanders, and they would acknowledge what they had done wrong. They put their hand up and wanted help, as opposed to those from some other areas who try and fight police all the time.'' Mr Kearns went on to study at the Texas A and M University to specialise in crash scene investigation and reconstruction. I can still remember details of all the accidents I've attended,'' he says. If youshowmeaphotoofitI can recall most of the facts.'' One of the most deadly was at Matamata where nine were killed when a minivan was in a collision with a truck. I also vividly remember a crash near the Auckland Har- bour Bridge where six died. The crash was brutal. A truck came and carried both cars off together as they were inseparable.'' Mr Kearns says police deal with horrific crash scenes in a variety of ways. Some people make black humour about what they see. It isn't meant as disrespect- ful, it is just how they deal with it. We all got checked up on regularly from police counsellors. It becomes clini- cal. You don't harden your heart -- it is always tragic, but you are there to do a job. A lot of cops see carnage, but the person becomes real when you meet the family. It can be very stressful. The worst task is notifying the next of kin. For me the reward in the job was to help families get closure in such horrific times. Our unit had one of the highest prosecution rates. I always tell families that pros- ecution won't ever repay what has been lost. It won't ever be enough. I have met some humble people that are very forgiv- ing, then others who become extremely bitter. It either makes the family stronger or tears them apart.'' Mr Kearns says one case he is proud of being involved in was bringing a manslaughter charge against a man who had a motorcycle accident in which his girlfriend riding pillion was killed. Several weeks earlier he was involved in a police chase and had more than 20 other breaches on his licence. We worked hard on the case and got permission to allow the previous offences to be con- sidered. That was an historic moment. I hate injustice.'' Mr Kearns says many crashes could have been avoided. Accidents are acts of God, such as catastrophic autome- chanical failure. Only 2 percent of all crashes are accidents -- 98 percent is driv- ing failure.'' Mr Kearns advocates low- ering the alcohol blood limit to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood rather than 80, and raising the driver age to 17. Mr Kearns is considering work as a private investigator and may do some consultancy work. I am looking forward to a bit of a normal family life.''
February 3rd 2011
February 10th 2011