Spaghetti-eating driver in fatal crash
A German tourist crashed his car after being distracted as he was about to eat spaghetti, killing him and a Frenchman, a coroner has found.
Onur Gulmez, 28, and Paul Joubert, 22, died after the car crashed on State Highway 6 near Rai Valley - about halfway between Blenheim and Nelson - on December 12.
They had travelled around New Zealand independently and met in Wellington, agreeing to travel together to Nelson. Another German tourist, Kathrin Bongard, joined them.
Gulmez, the driver, and Bongard, the front seat passenger, were wearing seatbelts, but Joubert was not as the back seat and seatbelts had been removed from the stationwagon. He was sitting on a particle board that covered an insecure metal frame.
Witnesses said Gulmez was in a line of traffic when the vehicle veered or zigzagged before heading into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Joubert was thrown from the stationwagon.
Police found spaghetti and sauce on the steering wheel and on Gulmez but there was no evidence that he had eaten any.
"I believe the crash happened because Onur was distracted while preparing to eat spaghetti,'' coroner Tim Scott said in his findings after inquests into their deaths.
He said the car had drifted left and hit a raised ridge of tar.
"This caused a wobble or a shimmy and the combined effect of this plus the general lack of concentration while preparing to eat the spaghetti caused Onur to lose control of the car. It veered right and collided with the approaching utility vehicle.''
Scott offered his condolences to the two men's families.