Double fatal Christmas crash: Brother urges motorists to take care and slow down

The brother of a man killed in a crash on Christmas Day is urging people to slow down on the country’s roads.

Five people have already died since the holiday road toll period started this year, surpassing the number of lives lost in the entire period last year.

Terry Charleston, 34, and Rebecca McAlees, 24, died after a single-vehicle crash in southeast Auckland on Christmas evening.

Police confirmed speed is suspected to be a factor in crash but categoric confirmation of what went wrong would only be given when the serious crash investigation was completed.

Jason Ward last saw his younger brother Charleston at their mum’s funeral earlier this year.

“I haven’t seen him since,” Ward said.

But when he heard about the crash on Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd gut instinct told him Charleston would be involved.

“Something inside suggested it was my brother or he had something to do with it because he was living out in that direction.”

Ward, who lives in Hunua, went out to the crash scene yesterday surveying the tell tale markers of a road tragedy.

“The skid marks go for tens of metres. They start way up the road,” he said.

“Speed was a mega-factor. He has come round that bend at an absolute horrific rate of knots.”

The horror of the crash included that a pet dog, that had belonged to their mum, was “catapulted” through the front window in the car. The dog did not survive.

“Don’t speed,” Ward urged motorists. “If you are going to speed there is a race track [for that].”

The 43-year-old spoke out because he wanted people across the country to drive safely and sober as a difficult year nears its close.

Ward also wanted to thank the emergency services who had responded to the terrible aftermath of the double fatal collision.

Eerily, another family member had unknowingly been in the traffic queue that piled up behind the crash site.

A catch-up with a friend had postponed her trip by about 20 minutes. Otherwise she would have been travelling the same road about the same time Charleston was, he said.

Ward said he was grateful he had not been dealt another loss.

He said he knew McAlees’ parents were “beyond devastated” by what had happened and there were simply no words that could make up for their loss.

Inspector Jason Homan said every death on the road means a person would never come home again to their whānau and friends.

Police were urging drivers to be careful on the roads and slow down, he said.

“Do not speed. Do not drink and drive. Put on your seatbelt and make sure your passengers have theirs on. Put away distractions like cellphones.

“Our officers work tirelessly every day to keep our roads safe, but we cannot control the actions of every driver, every minute of the day, and people need to take accountability for their driving behaviour.”

Road safety is something everybody must take responsibility for, Homan said.

“Every person getting behind the steering wheel needs to take ownership of their safety, that of their passengers and also other road users and pedestrians.

“And if you’re a passenger in a vehicle and you don’t feel safe, please have the courage to say something to the driver, or ask to get out.

“Get yourself and your friends home safe these holidays and take care on the roads.”

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