Injured boy ‘likes his lights’


A Queenstown youngster bowled at a dangerous downtown zebra crossing last year “likes his lights”.

Kenn Ishi-Palmer, now nine, spent nine months recovering from a grisly compound fracture to his leg after being struck by an SUV on Stanley Street last July.

Doting granddad David Palmer wrote to mayor Vanessa van Uden a few days after the accident pleading for action to sort out “the killer lane”.

The accident prompted the NZ Transport Agency to spend $330,000 on traffic lights at the intersection with Ballarat St to improve road safety and congestion.

Dad Jono Palmer says: “He’s been and used the lights - he likes his lights.

“I’m pleased too, it’s a lot safer there now, definitely.”

Palmer says Kenn’s back on his feet and fully recovered. He spent months in a cast.

“It took him about nine months to recover - a long time.

“He’s doing really well now, in good form.”

Kenn was hit by a driver turning left into Ballarat St at the bottom of the Stanley St hill.

The driver, Fernhill man Owen Robert Darby, didn’t see Kenn crossing in front of another car, which was stopped at the crossing in the right lane.

The granddad’s letter - released to Mountain Scene by the agency after an official information request - said: “The driver should have stopped. No excuse.”

But he says the intersection design was a “major factor”.

“It needs to be remedied, quickly as top priority, before someone actually gets killed.”

He suggested the zebra crossing be moved to the other side of the junction and barriers be put up to prevent people from crossing where Kenn was struck.

Van Uden sent the letter to the agency’s transport planning boss Tony Sizemore.

Sizemore, responding to Van Uden less than a week after the accident, said the granddad’s plan wouldn’t work.

“I think it would be problematic for the reasons that pedestrians don’t like to deviate from their desire line.”

Sizemore told Van Uden the agency wouldn’t normally build zebra crossings at roundabouts and believes it’s “probably something we were forced to do due to the council’s position regarding traffic signals”.

He reminded Van Uden that Kenn’s was the only serious accident there in five-and-a-half years - roughly 28 million vehicle movements.

But he added: “I think the only solution is to signalise the intersection to cater for vehicles and pedestrians.”

Granddad Palmer accepts that decision.

“He explained all the reasons why traffic lights would be better, and I came to agree with him.

“The consultative process was very good.”

The agency’s national office safety team approved funding by the middle of September. The lights went live in May.

The agency has also installed lights further down the road at the intersection with Shotover St. The $280,000 lights are expected to be operational this week.