Brothers Anton and Thiagan De Croos, on the interislander ferry in 2013. Thiagan says Crate Day is a terrible tradition.
The brother of a man killed by a drink-driver on Crate Day in 2020 says the event is a terrible tradition.
Thiagan De Croos’ brother, Anton, died after a car crash near Invercargill on Crate Day last year, and had to watch the funeral by video-link from Sri Lanka.
Thiagan likened young people drinking excessively and then driving to throwing dynamite into a volcano.
The traditional day, the first Saturday of summer, has become notorious for drunken behaviour.
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Retired Invercargill doctor Anton De Croos died after Zachary Griffiths, 22, who had been drinking in celebration of crate day hit his vehicle on December 5, 2020.
Griffiths was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court on Thursday, for failing to stop to ascertain injury or death after a crash and excess breath alcohol causing death.
The court was told Griffiths had celebrated Crate Day by sharing a crate of big beer bottles with a friend, drinking about six, plus three or four Vodka Cruise stubbies during the afternoon and evening.
If there were young people drinking, there would be lots of accidents, Thiagan said.
“Well an accident can be the loss of your or my life,” he said.
Crate Day was launched by The Rock radio station in 2009 as a publicity stunt encouraging people to mark the first Saturday of summer by buying a crate of beer.
An increase in family harm incidents and hospitalisations has been documented in relation to the day.
MediaWorks owns The Rock. On Friday a MediaWorks spokeswoman said: “We no longer have any association with Crate Day and don’t have any further comment to make.”
The radio station’s marketing material called the 2020 edition the “Cratest Day of the Year”, and offered a give-away promotion ahead of the day.
Thiagan came from Sri Lanka to visit his brother in Invercargill twice, in 1994 and 2013, and drove over the stretch of road where his brother’s car was hit.
Thiagan, 77, said his brother was one of the nicest people he knew, and they had a close relationship.
“I’m not angry, I have gone through too much to go through that,” Thiagan said.
However, Thiagan has written to New Zealand’s Chief Justice to further investigate the case, and wants more information about his brother’s death.
Healthy Attitudes Towards Alcohol spokeswoman Becs Amundsen said Southlanders were renowned for looking after their mates, but encouraging your mates to drink to this level of excess (a crate is the equivalent of close to 30 standard drinks for a male) was not what good mates did.
“We know that Southland has an ingrained culture of hazardous drinking, and it will take the combined effort of the whole community to change that.”
Crown entity Te Hiringi Hauora/Health Promotion Agency investigates alcohol trends and attitudes, giving advice and recommendations to government agencies.
The agency’s principal advisor for alcohol, Mark Lyne, said De Croos’ death showed why he did not want crate day to be promoted.
“I would prefer to see no promotion of it what-so-ever, and this incident highlights why,” Lyne said.
Emergency doctor Scott Pearson has seen the effects of crate day first hand. [File video]
When crate day started in 2009, it was about sharing a crate, Lyne said.
“Somewhere along the line it became that you drink a crate per person.”
Promotion of the day, alcohol consumption and emergency department numbers had all improved in the past two years, Lyne said.
“Doesn’t [De Croos’ death] just bring home the message that drinking that volume of alcohol, whether crate day or not, can have serious outcomes?” Lyne said.