POLICE have arrested a man after an incident outside James Street Primary School last week in which a car mounted the kerb and drove along the footpath, almost hitting a student.
Whakatane Intermediate School principal Doug McLean said the car almost hit a year 8 student from his school who was walking along the pavement. The incident happened at about 3.15pm on Thursday.
“The driver shot onto the footpath to avoid the traffic, and he did it at speed. He nearly hit one of our kids … the girl is very shaken.”
He said the driver quickly left the scene after the incident.
Mr McLean said the police had been “fantastic” in making an arrest so quickly.
Eastern Bay road policing manager Ray Wyley said: “We have located a vehicle and the driver was processed for drink driving. He will appear in court on a number of charges.”
The arrest came after police posted a Facebook message urging anyone who had a seen a silver or grey station wagon mount the pavement and almost knock over a child to contact police.
“The car ran over the grass and drove 300-400 metres along the footpath outside the school on James Street, before turning back onto the road and driving away,” the Facebook post stated.
Principal of James Street School, Norah Schreiber, said Thursday’s incident happened after her school had finished road patrol, although they had heard about it.
“It has been my observation that cars are travelling far too fast down James Street. I have been on road patrol all week and it is very disconcerting when cars approach doing 50 kilometres an hour.”
She asks drivers to be sensible and slow down when approaching a school as children could be unpredictable.
Meanwhile, Whakatane district councillor Nandor Tanczos has urged drivers to slow down outside schools after he came across a child who had just been hit a by a car going through a pedestrian crossing outside Apanui School last Tuesday.
“I came out of the school with my son and saw a kid crying who was hit by a car. Fortunately, he was okay.”
Mr Tanczos said the school had patrols and was doing a very good job. There was also plenty of signage warning cars to slow for the crossing, he said.
“But I have come across incidents on a number of occasions going to cross with my boy and cars have just shot through the pedestrian crossing,” he said.
“Most people are great at the crossings … but it just takes one idiot.
“Personally, I’d like to see a camera set up outside every school and prosecute every driver who doesn’t give way to kids trying to cross.”
Mr McLean said the closure of the Pekatahi Bridge had resulted in considerably more traffic, particularly big trucks, travelling on nearby Hinemoa Street, which a number of students crossed.
“I am appealing to parents to talk to their kids about bike safety and using the crossings,” said Mr McLean.
“We have put extra staff at the crossing and we want students to use the crossing,” he said.