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Upper Hutt Leader : September 21st 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1939 Median barrier Krystal's legacy By ROSEMARY McLENNAN Never forgotten: Malcolm and Sharlene Barnett with the cross they returned to the River Rd on Friday. Photos: ROSEMARY McLENNAN In blossom: Malcolm and Sharlene Barnett plant a cherry blossom in memory of their daughter. Safety precautions: Traffic was reduced to one lane for the installation of Krystal's cross and planting of a cherry blossom. The Taupo couple who lost a daughter on the River Rd hope the barrier they spent years campaigning for means no-one will ever face what they have been through. Krystal Bennett, 18, died in a head-on crash six years ago. On Friday morning her mother and stepfather, Shar- lene and Malcolm Barnett, returned to Upper Hutt to see her legacy, the completed bar- rier, re-erect a cross in her memory and plant a cherry tree at the place where she died. On Monday, September 5, 2005, Miss Bennett was driving to her Stokes Valley home after finishing work at Upper Hutt s Dick Smith store when a car, driven by a woman on P, cros- sed the centre line. Miss Ben- nett died at the scene. Kahn Edwards, 12, a passen- ger in the other car, also died. The driver of the car was later jailed. Friday s ceremony was atten- ded by mayor Wayne Guppy, Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins, and officials from the New Zea- land Transport Agency (suc- cessor of Transit New Zealand), contractor Fulton Hogan and Opus International Consul- tants, which designed and managed the $5.2 million proj- ect. Cherry tree planted The couple planted a cherry blossom, Prunus campanulata superba, because Krystal loved the one at her Taupo home and it flowers in the month when she died. It will also attract tui, the couple said, as a bellbird fed in a nearby tree and sang its way through the planting ceremony. The couple said they did not want their daughter to be just another road statistic . They wrote to the chief execu- tive of Transit New Zealand (then in charge of state high- ways such as the River Rd) who replied that a rumble line would be sufficient. The couple began their own research, some involving the Eastern Hutt Rd, which they sent to coroner Garry Evans, who had decided an inquest was not needed. He changed his mind and later said something should be done about the River Rd. Transit investigations fol- lowed and the Barnetts began their campaign. If the median barrier were there, Krystal would be here, Mrs Barnett said on Friday. Once a decision was made to install a barrier on the section south of the Moonshine Bridge, earthworks were delayed until land was bought on the western side. More barriers sought Mrs Barnett says all main highways should have median barriers. You can be innocent. It s always someone else who does the damage. Mrs Barnett said the cost of losing their daughter was astronomical and no family should have to be put through what we have . There was so much going for her youngest child, she said. A few days after Miss Bennett s death they learned she had been named number 57 in the top 100 of the 1400 Dick Smith sales staff. Born and raised in Taupo, she had left home earlier in the year and flatted in Stokes Val- ley, near her grandparents. Transport Minister Steven Joyce joined the Barnetts and officials for morning tea in Mr Guppy s office where he congratulated the couple for their perseverance. The River Rd carries high volumes of traffic and was now much more forgiving of the failure of people when they make poor decisions, he said. Mr Guppy said NZTA had been outstanding to work with and if all government departments were like that it would be much easier . Mark Owen, NZTA oper- ations manager for Wellington, said there were seven head-on crashes on the stretch of road in the five years before the project began, with two resulting in fatalities. The work includes wider shoulders, new guardrails and drainage. The regional director central for NZTA, Jenny Chetwynd, said safety improvements for the River Rd north of Whak- atiki St are still being invest- igated. An update will be included in the Draft Regional Land Transport Plan to be released within the next week. Letters 10 Real Estate 22-43 Arts 37-39 Motoring 44 Classifieds 44-49 Sport 51-56 GARDENING STILL AT 100 UH's newest centenarian 3 ROCKQUEST VICTORY Velvet Regime win best song 6 ONE-MAN EXHIBITION Darcy Nicholas show 37
September 14th 2011
September 28th 2011