On the brisk morning of August 1, 27-year-old Megan Finlayson from Hutt Valley ventured towards her daily duties with dreams and life plans intact. But cruel fate, embodied in a reckless driver, had a different design.
Unsuspecting to the harrowing seconds that awaited her, Megan stepped onto the road outside the Pomare train station in Lower Hutt. She became an innocent victim of the reckless driver Chad Reuben Arene Clark, who, bereft of any regard for law or life, was driving on the wrong side of the road at a terrifying speed nearing 100km/h.
As court proceedings unfolded, the hearts of Finlayson’s loved ones bled as they voiced their profound grief. They mourned the life events that she would never partake in, dreams unfulfilled – marriage, motherhood, the shared joy of her family’s milestones, standing as a bridesmaid for her friends, and officiating as a godmother to their children. The heinous act had abruptly ripped away the entirety of Megan’s potential future.
Megan’s regular daily commute to work had been gruesomely interrupted by Clark, whose reckless maneuvering set the scene for the tragedy. He was driving relentlessly on the wrong side of the road, overtaking cars haphazardly, clocking around 45km/h above the speed limit. He ferociously tore through the road, showing no signs of slowing down despite Megan’s course coinciding with his.
As poignantly stated by courtroom accounts, Clark made no effort to avert the catastrophic collision. The impact of the collision launched Megan into the air, who then landed on the parked cars, coming to a rest around 15 meters from the deadly strike point. Unrepentant of his malicious act, Clark coldly fled the scene, leaving behind a trail of emotional devastation and unanswered questions.
In the safe haven of the Wellington District Court, the intimate suffering of Megan’s friends and family surfaced. The traumatic mental image of Megan’s untimely death haunted them relentlessly.
Her sister voiced the chilling nightmare that had found a permanent residence in her consciousness. “I could not stop picturing my sister catapulting into the air after being hit by Clark’s car, slamming into parked vehicles, before hitting the ground, dead,” she shared, recounting her uncontrollable distress at the sheer disregard for human life that Clark demonstrated as he left Megan at the roadside.
The enduring trauma presented itself in unexpected ways, with her sister now fearing the simple act of crossing the road, experiencing an irrational fear stirred by an unconquerable mental reliving of the tragedy.
In the courtroom, the family expressed their raw desolation. Megan’s parents, choked by grief, conveyed their sense of loss of their cherished daughter. Their narratives revealed the void left in a closely woven family fabric, forever altered by the tragic incident.
The man in the dock, Chad Reuben Arene Clark, aged 35, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.
“Megan’s death by Chad Clark’s dangerous driving is society’s loss,” these words resonated in the courtroom, leaving an indelible impression. Megan was described by her bereaved father as “modest, smiling, loving and intelligent”. His reference to her horrifying, premature death brought a palpable wave of anguish that dominated his everyday existence. “This nightmare will be with me for the rest of my life.”, he confessed, “I will not see Megan blossom into the wonderful woman she would have been.”
Clark had earlier admitted to dangerous driving causing death and failing to halt to understand the severity of injury. Police had previously cautioned that Clark was a dangerous man and not to be approached without due care.
He was sentenced to five years and three months in prison, encompassing his dangerous driving, participating in riotous behavior, possession of weapons, ammunition, and drugs. In addition to the jail sentence, Clark was disqualified from driving for a period of four years starting from May 2025.