4 Jan 2013

Police frustrated people not getting drink-drive message

5:05 pm on 4 January 2013

Hawke's Bay police say they are frustrated people are not getting the message of the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

A six-year-old girl remains in a critical condition in Auckland's Starship Hospital from injuries received when the quad bike she was on with four adults veered off a Waimarama road and rolled late on Wednesday night.

The girl was initially treated at Hawke's Bay Hospital, but was flown to Auckland on Thursday.

Two of the four adults injured in the accident had been discharged from hospital on Friday afternoon.

The girl's 28-year-old father, who broke his leg in the crash, has been transferred from Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings to Middlemore Hospital in Manukau.

Another adult remains in a stable condition in Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt says it appears that all the adults involved in the accident had been drinking. Empty alcohol cans were found at the scene.

Mr Shadbolt says incidents such as these are extremely frustrating for police and emergency services who have to clean up afterwards.

"When you mix a quad bike with being overloaded late at night and with alcohol thrown into the mix as well, it's a volatile mix and it's extremely disappointing that these people haven't got the message.

"It's totally sad and frustrating that as a result, a young girl has significant injuries and is now up at Starship Hospital."

Mr Shadbolt says it is too early to say if charges will be laid.

It is the second serious quad bike crash these holidays. On 26 December, a 16-year-old was killed while riding one in South Otago.

At the time, Federated Farmers' agricultural health and safety spokesperson sent out a reminder to be incredibly cautious when riding quad bikes. Jeanette Maxwell says it is disappointing that the message was not heard.

Record number of admissions

A doctor who treated the victims of the Hawke's Bay quad bike crash says it is an example of the preventable alcohol-related incidents hospitals have to deal with during the holidays.

Hawke's Bay Hospital says it treated a record 157 patients on New Year's Day - about 10% more than 2012.

An emergency consultant at the hospital, Scott Boyes, says many of those injuries were alcohol-related, as apparently were those sustained at Waimarama.

Dr Boyes says there has been a spike in alcohol related injuries, on top of crashes, assaults and other medical problems already being dealt with - and that is stretching staff to the limit.

He says people need to rethink their attitude towards alcohol for their own health and those of others.

"Look, I think we do need to change our attitude to drinking and what we see as acceptable behaviour, because it really does have quite big implications on a lot of people who are relatively innocent ... and it's a terrible time for families if something does go wrong."