The kids who were killed in stolen car smash

Yesterday a horrible car smash in Christchurch that went up in flames, killing occupants, led the news.

The police are in difficult situations where dangerous use of lethal vehicles are involved. It has been reported that the car was driven through the city at over 130 km per hour, running red lights, in wet conditions. Some sort of accident was a clear possibility. So it happened.

Police officers were quickly on the accident scene, and were injured when they unsuccessfully tried to free the boys from the flaming wreck.

The role of the police in starting to chase the car, then withdrawing from the chase, then laying out road spikes that contributed to the accident, will get plenty of scrutiny in due course. It should be thoroughly investigated.

But what about the lives and deaths of the three teenagers? stuff has some initial insight in Young brothers killed after fleeing car explodes in ‘huge ball of fire

Stuff understands the boys are 16-year-old Glen Mcallister, who was believed to be driving the car, and 13-year-olds Craig Mcallister and Brooklyn Taylor.

The mother of two young boys killed alongside their friend after the fleeing car they were in exploded says she’s in “severe shock”.

That’s understandable.

Glen and Craig’s mother, Juanita Rose, told Stuff she was in “severe shock” after losing her two sons, who she called her “babies, my life”.

Their sister posted a tribute to her “handsome brothers” on Facebook.

“Losing one of you is hard enough, but both of you going has destroyed me. Thirteen and 16 is way too young to be gone.

But these three young teenagers were out near midnight driving a car they had stolen. And it is claimed they had a habit of stealing cars.

Taylor’s older sister, TeAri Taylor, said her younger brother’s life began to unravel when their father died nine years ago.

Taylor said she felt sick when she got a call on Monday morning to say her brother had died.

I know the feeling, albeit in less horrific circumstances.

“He was a broken child.They were attached at the hip, Dad was his best mate.”

Brooklyn was in the care of Oranga Tamariki at the time of his death.

TeAri Taylor spoke with him in April last year, after the death of their grandmother, about moving up to Wellington to live with her.

“At the time he wasn’t going through a very good situation, wrong people, wrong crowd – just basically couldn’t get out of the situation that he was in,” she said.

It sounds like he was certainly in the wrong crowd in the wrong car on Sunday night.

“Everybody makes mistakes, but that’s your life. They were only 13 and 16 – it’s absolutely disgusting, they had so much to live for.

“As much as I’m broken that we have to bury my baby brother, it wasn’t an easy decision or situation to deal with for those police to have to deal with.”

It is understood the three boys had regularly stolen cars throughout the city in recent months. The Mazda Familia involved in the crash was first seen speeding in central Christchurch at 11.13pm on Sunday, reaching speeds in excess of 130kmh and running red lights on Moorhouse Ave. It had been stolen earlier that night.

If it is understood that “the three boys had regularly stolen cars throughout the city in recent months” how could they have still been able to be out stealing and driving on Sunday night?

The police will hopefully learn from how they handled the incident. Some of the police officers are likely to be haunted by what they had to deal with.

Oranga Tamariki may also hopefully learn something from their involvement.

But will there be lessons for families of out of control teens?

Also from Stuff – The faces of fatal police chases: Teens make up half of crash victims

Teenagers make up almost half of all victims of fatal police pursuits reported in New Zealand in the last three years.

Stuff has been able to confirm the identities of 27 people who died as a result of car crashes where police were in pursuit at some point since 2015. This includes drivers, passengers, and innocent road users who were hit.

Of the 27 fatalities, 13 were teenagers, some as young as 12 years old.

 

 

 

 

$1.4 billion spending announced to make roads safer, reduce deaths

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter have announced a $1.4 billion, three-year programme to make New Zealand’s highest risk roads safer. They haven’t said where the money is coming from.

The Safe Network Programme will make 870 kilometres of high volume, high-risk State Highways safer by 2021 with improvements like median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening.

The programme will target an estimated $600 to $700 million of state highway safety improvements and $700 to 800 million of local road safety improvements. Once complete, the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.

Phil Twyford said the Safe Network Programme will build urgent safety improvements on our roads at scale and pace over the next three years to save lives.

he Safe Network Programme is just one part of the Transport Agency’s safety programme. The Transport Agency continues to invest in a wide range of programmes delivered across the safety spectrum including road safety maintenance, advertising and education, road policing, active modes and public transport, all of which support improved safety outcomes.

Safety improvements in Safe Network Programme will include:

  • fixing dangerous corners
  • installing roadside and median safety barriers
  • shoulder widening
  • further safety improvements for high risk intersections
  • rumble strips
  • improving skid resistance
  • improving rail level crossing safety
  • setting safe and appropriate speed limits.

Safe Network Programme - national map

That suggests the new safety measures will prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries per year, a significant number but less than half the current road toll.

Julie Anne Genter said, “our Government believes it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

“Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year. The number of serious injuries increased from 2,020 to 2,836 per year over the same period.

“No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal. No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society – that’s why we’re making safety a priority.”

Earlier this year Genter said the Government was looking at introducing a zero road death policy by 2020. Stuff: Government looks at targeting zero road deaths and serious injuries from 2020

The Government will look at introducing a zero road death policy by 2020 as it strives to curb the country’s “unacceptable” road toll.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter made the announcement at the local government road safety summit in Wellington on Monday, telling guests local and central government needed to work together to make the ambition a reality.

“We need a new [road safety] strategy. We need a clear idea of the outcomes we want and the steps we need to take to get there,”

“I believe this is a transformational Government. It is a Government that can set ambitious targets, whether on child poverty, on climate change, or road safety.”

“Clear, truly ambitious targets drive policy and help deliver meaningful change. That’s why this Government will investigate adopting a target of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

While the target could be considered “audacious”, all road deaths and serious injuries were avoidable, and New Zealanders had become “desensitised” to the rising casualties, Genter said.

The Government would also no longer refer to the “road toll”, instead referring to “road deaths” to acknowledge the people who had lost their lives and the fact road deaths were not inevitable.

There was no mention of the zero deaths in yesterday’s announcement.

More information about the Safe Network Programme, including a map: www.nzta.govt.nz/safe-network-programme

Life expectancy decline attributed to epidemic

After decades of increasing life expectancy for Americans there has been a decline in the last two years, and the promary cause is being attributed to an epidemic.

Chicago Tribune: The epidemic that’s shortening American lives

 In the United States, life expectancy at birth has inched up almost every year over the past half century, going from under 70 years in 1963 to nearly 79 years in 2014. But the progress that once seemed automatic has stopped. Last year, for the second consecutive year, life expectancy declined.

This is not because of a surge in heart attacks among retirees. In fact, life expectancy at age 65 rose a bit in 2016.

Neither is it because of obesity, which has been referred to as a life expectancy time bomb.

The overall decline stems from an increase in the death rate among younger people.

In the 15-24 age group, mortality rose by almost 8 percent; among those 25-34, it jumped by more than 10 percent.

Only among seniors did the death rate decline.

Drugs extend the lives of older people, but shorten and end the lives of many younger people.

More than anything else, the increase is attributable to an epidemic of fatalities from drug overdoses. Last year, 63,632 people died this way — up from 16,849 in 1999. The number of fatalities exceeded the number of Americans who died from auto accidents and gun homicides combined.

More than 3 in 4 of the overdose deaths involved opioids. Heroin and prescription painkillers account for the majority, but the newest and most lethal drug is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. Deaths involving this and other synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) more than doubled last year, to 19,413.

Drug overdoses now have eclipsed the AIDS epidemic at its height. In October, President Donald Trump declared the problem a public health emergency.

In New Zealand we have had a number of deaths this year attributed to synthetic drugs (sometimes erroneously referred to as synthetic cannabis).

NZH in September: Twenty deaths linked to synthetic drugs

Police believe around 20 people may have died from synthetic drugs.

Police and the Chief Coroner have today reinforced their previous warning to communities about the dangerous consequences of using synthetic drugs.

It comes following the recent deaths of two men aged 22 and 37, and a 26-year-old woman, all from West Auckland who died in separate incidents and where the Coroner is investigating whether synthetic drugs were a possible cause of death.

Police say it is a nationwide problem and are also looking at the recent death of a 21-year-old Feilding man where synthetic drugs may have been involved.

Also from NZH: Synthetic cannabis – a fatal addiction. The short life and tragic death of Calum Jones

Calum Jones’ last words to his sister were a promise.

As he dropped her off at work she asked him to promise her that he would not use synthetic cannabis that day.

“I promise I won’t,” the 22-year-old said.

Hours later he was dead, found lifeless on his bedroom floor by his elderly grandmother.

Synthetic drug addiction and deaths are just a part of a much wider drug problem.

NZH: Thousands of overdose deaths linked to rise in fentanyl in drug supply

That narcotic, increasingly spliced into the nation’s illicit drug supply, is fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller exacerbating heroin’s deadly trap. In cities across America, it is fuelling deeper addiction and has become one of the most prominent killers linked to the nation’s drug crisis.

In 24 of the nation’s largest cities and the counties that surround them, fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased nearly 600 per cent from 2014 to 2016, according to county health departments nationwide. According to overdose records in those cities reviewed by The Washington Post, there were 582 fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl in 2014, a number that soared to 3946 last year. Officials estimate there will be a much higher number of fatal fentanyl-related overdoses in 2017.

NZ Drug Foundation: Underdosing naloxone

In 2012, 41,502 drug overdose deaths were recorded in the US – almost 80 percent of which were accidental, and almost 7 percent were of unknown intent. And the drugs? More than half were pharmaceuticals, and more than 70 percent of these were opioid analgesics.

The non-pharmaceutical deaths? Heroin, mostly, either on its own or combined with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or cocaine. Looking further into the stats makes for some depressing reading. In 2011, there were about 2.5 million visits to US emergency departments due to drug misuse and abuse. Around 71,000 of those were by people under 18 years of age.

And it’s not just the US. Globally, an estimated 69,000 people die each year from opioid overdose (both pharmaceutical drugs like Oxycontin and morphine as well as illegal drugs like heroin and ‘homebake’ opioids). In the US, it’s hit epidemic status, and the rest of the world is seeing increases, especially as prescription medicine misuse is on the rise. It’s also no longer limited to the streets. With the rise in prescription opioids, middle-aged women are one of the rising demographics for overdose rates.

The problem is smaller here

Yes, comparatively, the figures are small in New Zealand. They’re also incredibly difficult to find. Recent statistics suggest that more than 400 people died of a drug overdose in the four years between 2009 and 2013. Of these, it’s estimated that an average of about 30 people per year die of opioid overdose.

But that’s still a significant number. A nephew of mine will be included in those statistics.

But there is another drug that’s an even bigger cause of death.

NZ Drug Foundation –  The New Zealand Drug Harm Index 2016:

That’s a bit dated, but shows a major problem with many drugs. Alcohol is a factor in a lot of crime and quite a few deaths in New Zealand.

A significant factor with alcohol is the amount of harm it does to people other than the user.

Dangerous (and sometimes deliberate) overuse of drugs is one of the biggest dangers to young people.

Along with another addiction, overeating (which has longer term effects), people risk being the cause of a decline in their own life expectancy.

Life saving drugs and medical interventions may not be able to do much about the amount of self harm we do.

And much of this is driven by profit motives, a lot of it legal (as in alcohol and tobacco), and increasingly illegal, with large amounts of drugs being imported.

Food production and climate change

A modelling study published in  The Lancet says that there could be 314 000–736 000 climate related deaths in the world by 2050 due to the effects of climate change on food production.

Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study

One of the most important consequences of climate change could be its effects on agriculture. Although much research has focused on questions of food security, less has been devoted to assessing the wider health impacts of future changes in agricultural production.

In this modelling study, we estimate excess mortality attributable to agriculturally mediated changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors by cause of death for 155 world regions in the year 2050.

  • The health effects of climate change from changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors could be substantial, and exceed other climate-related health impacts that have been estimated.
  • Climate change mitigation could prevent many climate-related deaths.
  • Strengthening of public health programmes aimed at preventing and treating diet and weight-related risk factors could be a suitable climate change adaptation strategy.

The model projects that by 2050, climate change will lead to per-person reductions of 3·2% (SD 0·4%) in global food availability, 4·0% (0·7%) in fruit and vegetable consumption, and 0·7% (0·1%) in red meat consumption.

These changes will be associated with 529 000 climate-related deaths worldwide (95% CI 314 000–736 000), representing a 28% (95% CI 26–33) reduction in the number of deaths that would be avoided because of changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors between 2010 and 2050.

Twice as many climate-related deaths were associated with reductions in fruit and vegetable consumption than with climate-related increases in the prevalence of underweight, and most climate-related deaths were projected to occur in south and east Asia.

Adoption of climate-stabilisation pathways would reduce the number of climate-related deaths by 29–71%, depending on their stringency.

ccnsojuweaakdkm

This map shows that climate related deaths may reduce in some countries but increase, in some cases substantially, in most countries.

The biggest potential problems are in China, Russia and south east Asia.

New Zealand is shown as being at risk of a moderate increase which is odd, because of the huge amount of food production here over what the country’s consumption requires.

Lower production would mean less exports but enough for us?

But if there are world food shortages then higher demand will mean higher prices for export, making food less affordable in New Zealand.

What the report doesn’t say in it’s summary is what the risks of war due to food shortages could be. That would be difficult to predict and can’t really be modelled.

Decline in battle deaths

While there is still some awful stuff going on around the world, with much current focus on Syria, this shows that deaths in battle have declined significantly.

cxqoonguwaaqgep

It’s not up to date but suggests a significant lessening in death by war.

This shows that major casualties increased substantially over the last two hundred years and then dropped off.

As long as the nuclear button never gets pushed we may avoid the huge scale horrors of the past.

Wikipedia: List of wars by death toll

Under-five deaths down 40%

UNICEF reports that deaths of children under five (worldwide) have dropped 50% since 1990, with the estimated global toll falling from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

UNICEF hails rapid progress on child survival

Countries across the world are making rapid progress on child survival rates, showing it is possible to bring down child mortality significantly in two decades, the United Nations Children’s Fund said on Thursday.

In its latest report on child survival, UNICEF hailed a sharp drop of about 40 percent in the number of children under the age of five dying, with the estimated global toll falling from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

There was progress across diverse nations with varied wealth, UNICEF said, providing evidence that neither a country’s regional nor economic status was necessarily a barrier to being able to reduce child death rates.

Poor countries such as Bangladesh, Liberia and Rwanda, middle-income countries such as Brazil, Mongolia and Turkey, and high-income countries such as Oman and Portugal, all made what UNICEF described as dramatic gains, lowering their under-five death rates by more than two-thirds between 1990 and 2011.

The report found that child deaths are increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which together accounted for more than 80 percent of all under-five deaths in 2011. On average, one in every nine children in sub-Saharan Africa dies before reaching the age of five, it said.

Thats a very good trend, but there’s a lot more that can be done:

More than half the pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths – which together account for almost 30 percent of under-five deaths worldwide – occur in just four countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The report showed that 11 percent of child deaths – equating to 759,000 a year or 2,079 a day – are due to diarrhoeal diseases, of which 88 percent can be attributed to a lack of clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer disease of children, according to the World Health Organisation.

Latest data for 2010 shows that about one in three of the world’s population still lack access to safe sanitation and one in 10 do not have clean drinking water.

As a comparison:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa – 110 per 1,000
  • New Zealand – 6 per 1,000