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North Canterbury crash: Widower pays tribute to wife and mother killed in double-fatal crash

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The mother whose baby survived a horror head-on crash in North Canterbury on Sunday was an “amazing mum and a beautiful wife”, her husband says.

Peta Kerr, 33, was killed when her vehicle crashed head-on with Bryan Kerr, 51, on Ashworths Road, Leithfield, on Sunday evening.

Christchurch resident Bryan Kerr was also killed in the crash. Tributes have been made to both victims.

Peta Kerr leaves behind husbandLeonard Bourton, and 9-month-old William.

He told the Herald today his wife was “an amazing mum and a beautiful wife”.

“An angel of light in a world that needs so much more light, colours will never look as bright again for William and I now she is gone.”

He said his wife’s nickname was Tinkerbell.

“She was always larger than life, but a child at heart,” he said.

The couple had been together for about 18 months. They last spoke on Sunday morning. Bourton tried calling his wife about 10 minutes before the crash while he was in Southland.

Following the crash, he got a call from a police officer who said his wife had died in the crash.

Bourton said his son, who was sitting in his car seat, is okay, with just a couple of bruises. “Not a scratch on him,” he said.

Bourton said his wife would be sorely missed, and said the journey ahead without her would be incredibly difficult.

“Tough roads lead to beautiful destinations.”

He wanted to thank police and the staff at the hospital for all their help.

“They’ve just been fantastic … just unbelievably good people.”

He offered his condolences to the family of the other driver.

Family members and friends of the two have shared tributes on social media.

Two people died when their vehicles collided head-on on Ashworths Rd, Leithfield, on Sunday evening.
Two people died when their vehicles collided head-on on Ashworths Rd, Leithfield, on Sunday evening.

A friend of Bryan Kerr, Corey Rogers posted online: “With a heavy heart, I’m so sorry to say Bryan Kerr has passed away in a car crash in [Leithfield] yesterday coming home from fishing in Kaikōura.”

Bryan Kerr was a member of the Canterbury Jet Sports Club.

The club posted online: “We send our condolences. B.K. was a great character to have in the club and we will miss him dearly.”

Another friend said on social media: “Such a relaxed and genuine guy who always loved a good laugh. I have great memories of us hanging out at the Marine and parties in Sumner.”

Peta Kerr died after her vehicle collided with another at Leithfield on State Highway 1.
Peta Kerr died after her vehicle collided with another at Leithfield on State Highway 1.

Senior Sergeant Stephen McDaniel earlier told the Herald the cause of the crash was yet to be determined.

McDaniel said motorists needed to “drive to the conditions and be aware of your capabilities and tiredness”.

“When it comes to road safety, it’s all about people driving to the conditions. It’s about fatigue, it’s about pulling over and stopping. The number of causes of accidents, a lot of it is fatigue or it is a distraction and speed as well.”

McDaniel said a lot of people were going to be affected by the crash.

“It’s tragic for everyone to deal with.”

The scene of the crash was 8km away from a deadly stretch of State Highway 1, where six people were killed in less than a year.

It comes as police have issued an urgent safety appeal following a horror 24 hours on South Island roads.

Five people were killed on South Island roads from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

The latest tragedy was on Monday morning when two people died in a smash on State Highway 1 near Ōamaru.

Emergency services at the scene of a serious crash on State Highway 1 near Ōamaru where two people died. Photo / Wyatt Ryder via Otago Daily Times
Emergency services at the scene of a serious crash on State Highway 1 near Ōamaru where two people died. Photo / Wyatt Ryder via Otago Daily Times

The two-vehicle crash in Ōamaru-Alma Rd near Browns Rd, Alma, Waitaki district, was reported to emergency services at about 9am.

Meanwhile, a person died after a single-vehicle crash on Ōtira Highway, Jacksons, in Westland at about 3.40pm on Sunday.

It’s now the deadliest start to the year on the roads in recent years, with 35 people killed in crashes from January 1-30, according to Ministry of Transport data.

The toll is more than double the amount (17) killed in the same period in 2021.

Police’s Canterbury prevention manager, Inspector Ash Tabb, told the Herald any road deaths are “devastating” and are “felt by many”.

“Many of the crashes emergency services respond to are preventable. We see too many crashes where motorists have chosen to speed, drink drive, be impatient or let themselves get distracted and take their eyes off of the road,” Tabb said.

“Deaths on our roads not only impact the family and friends of those involved but the emergency services who respond and the public who witness the crash.”



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