Two German tourists admit West Coast crashes

Court House-Sept-2013-07Two German tourists who drove into trouble on West Coast roads have admitted charges of careless driving causing injury in the Christchurch District Court on the same day.

Both face paying financial penalties and disqualification for crashes that caused broken bones to their victims.

Twenty-one-year-old Ludwig Lunak blamed a West Coast sandfly which landed on his arm for distracting him for a second when he drove a light van containing himself and two friends off a narrow road that led to an old goldfields town.

The van went 28m along the grass verge out of control before plunging 8m down a bank where it ended upside down in a creek bed, police prosecutor Sergeant Neil Williams told Judge Charles Blackie.

A passenger broke all three major bones in his leg.

Defence counsel Andrew McKenzie said Lunak was driving at about 40kmh when the accident happened. The injured man was a friend with whom he had set out from Germany to explore the world.

They were still friends and the victim regarded the matter as an accident. He had since returned to Germany, which meant a restorative justice meeting was not feasible. Lunak accepted that his driving holiday in New Zealand was at an end.

Judge Blackie told Lunak: “You have got to understand that if you drive on some of our roads, maximum care is required.”

He fined Lunak $750 and disqualified him from driving for nine months.

Another German tourist has admitted that her camper van driving injured a motorcyclist she collided with while on the wrong side of a West Coast highway.

That accident happened on State Highway 6, north of Punakaiki, just after 5pm on March 13, when the camper van driven by Franziska Ehret, 26, collided with a motorcycle ridden by a 37-year-old Westport man.

The rider underwent several hours of surgery in Christchurch Hospital for a broken wrist, broken arm, and a compound fracture to his leg.

Ehret, a social work student, pleaded guilty to the charge of careless driving causing injury, before Sergeant Williams told the court she had been completely on the wrong side of the road as she drove around a right hand bend, colliding head-on with the motorcycle.

He said reparations of $13,700 were sought for the damage to the motorcycle because the rider only had third party insurance. The case was delayed to confirm that restorative justice was not practical in a situation where Ehret was hoping to leave the country soon, to attend her grandmother’s funeral.

Defence counsel David Goldwater said the victim had previously declined to meet her but she had left an email with the police if he changed his mind. She was offering to pay emotional harm reparations.

The case was delayed to Monday to find out if the camper van company’s insurance, which Ehret had taken out, would cover the damage to the motorcycle, which was likely to be written off.

She remains at large. No bail was required.



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