Taiwanese tourist admits fatal crash

Court House-Sept-2013-08A Taiwanese woman was on a New Zealand holiday to recover from the death of her partner in a motorcycle crash, when she caused an accident in Templeton that killed her father and injured her mother.

The woman was driving to Christchurch Airport at the end of the holiday when she went through a stop sign at the corner of Jones Road and Dawsons Road on February 18.

Chia-Fang Chu, 39, of Kaoshiung City, Taiwan, appeared in the Christchurch District Court today and admitted charges of careless driving causing the death of Fu-Hwa Ju, her father, and injury to Mei-Yu Chu Yeh, her mother.

Judge Tony Couch remanded her on bail for sentencing on Friday afternoon, and referred the case to the Restorative Justice organisation in the meantime. Defence counsel Josh Lucas asked for a short remand so that the case could be completed quickly for the family to return to Taiwan.

He said Chu was now staying at a bed and breakfast which was costing her a large amount of money.

Chu’s mother remains in hospital but is to be assessed on Thursday on whether she can travel home.

Her mother received rib injuries, a pneumothorax, laceration to the liver, and a fractured scapular.

Her father died of impact injuries at the scene.

Judge Couch said the case had to be referred for a restorative justice meeting to be considered with the driver of the other car who received substantial bruising from her seatbelt. He asked for that assessment to be carried out urgently.

Mr Lucas said the family – including Chu’s two children, her cousin and her child  – were on holiday for Chu to relax because of depression following her partner’s death in a motorcycle crash.

Police prosecutor Stephen Burdes said the seven people on holiday were in the people mover rental vehicle at the time of the crash.

Chu had driven from Lake Tekapo that morning, stopping at Rakaia for a rest. They were on their way to board their flight home at Christchurch Airport.

At 11.20am, Chu was following the guidance of a GPS when she drove up to the intersection. She stopped at the railway line, but did not stop again at the stop sign just past the railway line. She drove into the side of a four-wheel drive vehicle coming from the right.

When interviewed, Chu said the crash was her fault. She said she did not see the stop sign and did not stop.

Mr Lucas said the accident was the result of a momentary lapse of attention in failing to stop at a stop sign. It did not involve any driving on the wrong side. It was the kind of accident that could have happened to anyone, whether they were a Taiwanese driver, or English, or a New Zealander.


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