Petition available at Oamaru Mail office

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A petition calling for a tourist driving law reform has received an increase of more than 5000 signatures since the death of an Oamaru girl following a serious car crash just over a week ago.

Oamaru girl Ruby Marris, 5, died and her parents and siblings were flown to Dunedin Hospital with moderate to serious injuries after a two-vehicle crash on SH1 near Moeraki at about 4.50pm on Saturday, February 21.

A 32-year-old Chinese national, who was granted name suppression, appeared in the Dunedin District Court last Monday in relation to the incident and was remanded on bail to reappear on March 13.

Geraldine boy Sean Roberts, 10, created a petition last year after an accident involving a foreign driver which killed his father, Grant Roberts, in 2012.

A torrent of more than 5000 new signatures for the online petition, following the death of Ruby Marris, has led the Oamaru Mail to make the petition available in its office for people to sign in person.

Sean said he and his younger brother Cody decided to create the petition because the number of crashes involving tourists was too high and something needed to change.

“We’ve tried to make something bad turn into something good.”

He has been pleased with the amount of signatures his petition has received from people all around New Zealand, as well as some people from Australia and England.

“It’s exceeded my expectations, it’s gone very well.”

Both he and Cody made and posted cards last week to the Marris family, because they wanted to show their support for the grieving family, Sean said.

“We’ve both lost somebody we love.”

Sean and Cody’s mother Melanie Pipson said the boys decided to send the cards because being children themselves it hit home a bit more.

“We truly, truly send out our heartfelt sympathies to everybody who has been affected by tragedy caused by foreign drivers.”

Ms Pipson and her sons were fundraising in the hope of heading up to Wellington on March 19 to talk about the petition, which is before the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, she said.

The whole process of the petition had been hard for the children, but it was really important to them, Ms Pipson said.

“They are so brave and I am so proud of them and if it helps save just one family, it’s worth it.”

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who sponsored Sean’s petition in Parliament, said the Geraldine boy’s story hit close to home and the latest tragedy with the Marris family has brought it even closer.

“The more people who have a say in this, the better.”

Waitaki district mayor Gary Kircher said the latest incidents had given an indication of the seriousness of the problem, especially in North Otago.

“A lot of New Zealanders just want to see more done to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

“The petition is a good way to give voice to those feelings.”

Anyone wanting to help the Roberts brothers get to Wellington can give money via the Sean Roberts Petition Fund, ANZ bank 06 0225 0379170 00.

By Ruby Harfield

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD -Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Waitaki district mayor Gary Kircher have already signed the petition but visited the Oamaru Mail yesterday (above) to show their support following the death of 5-year-old Oamaru girl Ruby Marris in a two-vehicle collision near Moeraki just over a week ago.