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Man who killed trio in crash given community work, $21k fine

Author
Katee Shanks, Rotorua Daily Post,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jun 2019, 4:09PM
David Cox at a previous appearance in the Whakatane District Court. (Photo / File)
David Cox at a previous appearance in the Whakatane District Court. (Photo / File)

Man who killed trio in crash given community work, $21k fine

Author
Katee Shanks, Rotorua Daily Post,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jun 2019, 4:09PM

The man responsible for the Matatā crash which killed three Rotorua Higgins workers has been ordered to pay $21,000, complete 250 hours of community work and been disqualified from driving for 21 months.

Tauranga man David Michael Cox appeared in the Whakatāne District Court today for sentencing for careless driving causing the death of Haki Hiha, David Eparaima and Dudley Soul Raroa.

Cox, 47, pleaded guilty to the three careless driving charges in April.

At today's sentencing, Judge Peter Rollo said the victim impact statements, which were not read in court, made it clear the three men were much loved by whānau.

He said they were men of mana, men of aroha and men of manaakitanga.

He ordered Cox to pay $21,000 emotional harm reparation, $7000 to each victim's family. He also sentenced him to 250 hours of community work and disqualified him from driving for 21 months.

After the sentencing a family member asked if Cox was going to jail.

At an earlier appearance, the court was told that on February 26 this year, Higgins workers were carrying out the routine clearing of culverts adjacent to State Highway 2 on the Matatā straights near Whakatāne.

About 1.50pm Cox was driving a Mitsubishi heavy truck travelling east on State Highway 2.

Conditions were dry, the area brightly lit by sunshine and visibility was described as excellent.

The three men who were killed when hit by a truck while working on the road at State Highway 2 near Matata, Haki Graham Hiha, David Eparaima and Soul Raroa. Photo / Supplied

The three men who were killed when hit by a truck while working on the road at State Highway 2 near Matata, Haki Graham Hiha, David Eparaima and Soul Raroa. Photo / Supplied

The truck veered left on the road shoulder and collided with the rear of a Higgins maintenance truck that was stationary on the shoulder.

The force of the impact shunted the Higgins vehicle forwards before it overturned into the roadside culvert. Cox's truck came to rest on the side of the road.

The three Higgins road workers were fatally injured.

After the crash family members of the three men expressed their anguish.

Hiha and Eparaima were relatives from the same pā at Whakarewarewa.

A cousin of Hiha, Kaci James, described him as being well-known for his long, long dreadlocks.

"He was staunch as but really was a big teddy bear. He was very loyal and loving to his long-time partner and couldn't go anywhere without her.

"He was a staunch rugby fan and was always at all the games [on Saturdays as a supporter]. He was red and black through and through."

Emergency services attend a crash on State Highway 2 near Matata. Photo / File

Emergency services attend a crash on State Highway 2 near Matata. Photo / File

David Eparaima, according to his brother Ngapero, looked gruff on the outside, but on the inside, he was a "very loving man".

"David was a loving brother and a loving partner. He loved his sons, his grandchildren, his nieces and nephews. He was very much a family man."

Soul Raroa, who had only been working for Higgins for a few weeks prior to the crash, was described as affectionate but cheeky by his daughters Stevie-Lee and Janna.

"He loved his kids, especially his grandchildren."

 

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