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SH2 Bethlehem motorcycle crash: Safety concerns raised about pedestrian crossing

Geoffrey and Karen Boucher were using the pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights near the Bethlehem shops. Photo / Mead Norton The...

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Geoffrey and Karen Boucher were using the pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights near the Bethlehem shops. Photo / Mead Norton

The deaths of two pedestrians in Bethlehem on Friday was “a tragedy that could have been avoided”.

A Bethlehem resident has spoken out as police confirm Geoffrey Raymond Boucher, 59, and his wife, Karen Jane Boucher, 56, were using a pedestrian crossing when they were killed.

Police were called to a crash involving a motorcycle on State Highway 2 near the Bethlehem shops about 8.30pm on Friday.

Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager Senior Sergeant Wayne Hunter said the lights at the crossing were functioning and “all going correctly”. Investigations as to why the crash happened were still ongoing.

Bethlehem resident Lesley Sjardin said, in her view, their deaths were “totally unnecessary”.

Geoffrey and Karen Boucher pictured at a Halloween work event last year. Photo / Supplied
Geoffrey and Karen Boucher pictured at a Halloween work event last year. Photo / Supplied

In a letter to the editor, Sjardin said: “To have a pedestrian crossing located on a busy State Highway and so very close to a very busy roundabout is nothing short of crazy – a tragedy waiting to happen.

“It did happen on Friday night – a tragedy that could have been avoided.”

Sjardin, who has lived in Bethlehem for about 25 years and regularly used the crossing, said she was “incredibly cautious” when using it.

“I will not step off the side of the road until I am sure that any cars coming have come to a halt. I wouldn’t dare step out until I was sure that the car had come to a dead halt.

“I was absolutely gutted when I heard that two people were killed by a motorcyclist. I thought that should never have happened. It was a total waste of life.

“It’s just absolutely tragic – it’s just terrible.”

Sam’s Donburi Bethlehem owner Jo Cho said she believed the crossing was “too close” to the roundabout.

“When people stop by the roundabout, when they go, [they] speed up.”

A local resident and business say the pedestrian crossing is too close to the roundabout. Photo / Mead Norton
A local resident and business say the pedestrian crossing is too close to the roundabout. Photo / Mead Norton

She said truck drivers who were “higher up” could see the crossing more easily, but lower cars “can’t see much”.

“It’s mainly students and schools around here and shops too.”

Cho said that generally speaking when there was less traffic on the road, vehicles “just speed”.

Four Square Bethlehem owner Harpreet Gill said he noticed people speeding at the roundabout “every day”.

Gill said there were a lot of “near misses” at the roundabout, especially in the mornings and evenings when there was less traffic.

“It’s really sad what happened here.”

Bethlehem Pharmacy owner Barbara Hunter said the tragedy was “quite a shock” and she had noticed the odd car “roaring past”.

“The traffic is very busy here. It’s very hard to speed.”

The incident happened on Friday night about 8.30pm near the Bethlehem shops. Photo / Mead Norton
The incident happened on Friday night about 8.30pm near the Bethlehem shops. Photo / Mead Norton

She said people needed to be “very cautious” from now on.

“Having that barrier in the middle gives that extra protection. What more can you do other than putting a bridge over the top, but we’ve got a lot of elderly people here with mobility scooters. You need everything on one level.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency director of regional relationships David Spiers could not comment until the Serious Crash unit had finished its investigation.

“We are unable to comment further on this situation until these investigations are complete.”

A police spokesman said no arrests have been made.

Geoffrey Boucher was remembered by his employer as someone who would do “anything for anyone”.

Dobsons co-owner Amanda Tucker said the company was “honoured” to have had Boucher working for them and he would leave “a massive gap” in the business.

“It’s such a tragedy – we’ve never actually lost anyone while they’ve been employed with us. He just would do anything for anyone and it’s just so unfair.”



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