Report into speed changes near Picton crash scene 'chilling'

Source: 1News

1News reporter Jessica Roden writes about her experience covering the horror crash near Picton which killed seven people last month.

Maybe it was the baby wipes lying on the side of the road that did it.

Tributes left at the scene of the horror crash between Picton and Blenheim

Maybe it was running into the truck driver’s cousin while getting coffee the next day.

Or perhaps it was those horrific pictures of the van, or what was left, that made it too much.

But whatever it was, covering the Picton crash that killed seven people, injuring two more, has been the hardest story for me to cover.

There's been heartbreaking stories before but this crash has stayed with me. In the days after I tried not to think about it and in the weeks since I’ve tried to pin down why I’ve had such an emotional reaction.

Perhaps it’s because you can only imagine what horror the remaining family members are going through. To lose a loved one is tragic but to lose so many in an instant is unimaginable.

Most were members of the close knit Filipino community in Pukekohe, including one who was a student at the local high school.

Last year I became a mum and I think that made it harder because you think of your own family. All I could think of at the crash scene was "I should be making french toast with Penelope" because that's what I'd been planning for that morning.

I looked around and really none of us should have been there. Not the bystanders who stopped to help, not the emergency services and not the family in the van.

It’s too early to say what caused that crash and it’s not helpful to speculate. But it’s hard not to put yourself in that position and think that could have been me. We're all guilty of being slightly distracted sometimes aren't we?

This crash has been the harshest of reminders for me that in a second things can change.

Earlier this week I received a report, written in December, about the stretch of road where the crash happened. It was looking at potential speed limit changes across Marlborough but reading the section relating to the area was chilling.

Multiple times the review mentions the risk of a head on collision on this stretch of road. It also recommends a lower speed limit and rumble strips.

Now there’s no way to know if these changes may have prevented the crash, but locals say they’ve had concerns about the road for years.

Authorities were going through the process of making changes to the road and you can only hope this has lit a fire under them.

Things happen on the road and sometimes it’s within your control and sometimes it isn’t. But if there’s a way to minimise the damage when that happens then it need to be prioritised here.

Picton crash scene

Perhaps nothing would have changed the outcome here but for me I will be forever changed by this crash. As journalists we do try to distance ourselves from the story as much as possible but sometimes that just isn’t possible.