Road Safety Week 2023: Northland dad says words will never be enough to thank rescuers

Kayden with dad Ryan Hall, right, and the Northland Rescue Helicopter team that helped him. Photo / Steve Macmillan

Kiwis are being encouraged to ‘be a road safety hero’ as Road Safety Week 2023 promotes road safety awareness from May 15 to 21. The Advocate is acknowledging those Northlanders who help make our roads safer.

Ryan Hall has spent Road Safety Week reflecting on how lucky he is to still have his son Kayden, who survived a fatal car crash at One Tree Point on Anzac weekend in 2021.

Two years on, the trauma of the incident is still very real for the family – despite Kayden making a full recovery.

Having finished work, Hall was about to take a quick drive to Waipū to coach Kayden’s rugby team when he received a phone call from his daughter Sophie alerting him to a road crash.


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A few minutes later he arrived at the scene which he described as carnage.

A ute-carrying Kayden had hit a truck head-on. The driver of the ute passed away at the scene.

Passersby removed the youngster from the ute and lay him on the side of the road where he was comforted by his sister Sophie.

Kayden had a broken right femur and there were concerns he may have suffered internal injuries.


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Hall said he turned up just minutes after the accident to find Kayden in a lot of pain.

“I knew the crash was really bad when I got there, so I purposely didn’t look at the cab of the ute,” he said.

“It was my worst nightmare. I was really concerned about what other injuries he might have had.”

In fact, Hall said he appreciated the efforts of everyone who helped, including the motorists first on the scene.

After the paramedics stabilised Kayden and gave him pain relief, Hall and Kayden were flown to Starship in Auckland and remained there for a week.

Kayden, who is Year 10 at Bream Bay College, said while he remembers the accident, memories of the chopper ride are sketchy.

One thing he did recall was a medic talking to him through the chopper ride and asking him about his rugby and his favourite position.

Hall remembered the flight to Starship was a scary experience for him and Kayden.

“The crew on the chopper were incredible, to say the least. They always made sure Kayden and I were able to see each other and kept us up to date with what was happening. They chatted with Kayden about his hobbies and had a real personal care touch. Words will never show our true gratitude.”

On Thursday afternoon more than 100 people walked the Hātea Loop to recognise local road safety heroes and to pay respects to the 38 road users killed in Northland last year.


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A huge variety of Northlanders walked the loop to remember those killed on the region’s roads. Photo / Steve Macmillan
A huge variety of Northlanders walked the loop to remember those killed on the region’s roads. Photo / Steve Macmillan

RoadSafe Northland road safety coordinator Ashley Johnston was overwhelmed by the turnout for the walk.

Johnston was especially pleased Saint Francis Xavier School students teamed up with Bike Northland to ride the loop.

“This is only the second year we have done the walk and I was so humbled to see so many people turn out in support of our road safety heroes and share their stories,” she said.

Raurimu Avenue School opened the event with a karakia and waiata, before Northland Transportation Alliance’s Nicole Cauty addressed attendees.

She paid tribute to the lives needlessly lost on Northland roads.

“We need to acknowledge those who have passed but also be aware of the trauma friends and whānau are left to deal with, not to mention the lifelong suffering many road crash survivors must live with,” Cauty said.


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Both Johnston and Cauty believe everyone can play a part in making our roads safer by adopting safer driving habits and looking out for each other.

FENZ, Police, St John, Northern Rescue Helicopter and volunteers also turned out for the event.

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