US driver veered into 4WD

BELINDA FEEK AND RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014
Cody James Dickey with his wife
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
DAY IN COURT: Cody James Dickey, left, with his wife, will be given the chance to meet with the husband of the woman killed in a crash at Whenuakite last Friday.

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Robyn Derrick and Cody Dickey's lives collided in a fraction of a second on a Coromandel road.

Derrick was looking forward to a future involving grandchildren, while Dickey was enjoying the sights of New Zealand after flying here to meet his wife.

Derrick's family will today attend her funeral as Dickey hangs in legal limbo far from home.

Dickey, 23, of Newark, California, yesterday stood in the dock at the Hamilton District Court to plead guilty to two charges of careless driving causing the death of Robyn Derrick, 52, of South Auckland, and careless driving causing injury to her husband, Philip, on SH25, Whenuakite, on May 30.

Dickey was the driver of a campervan which crossed the centre line and crashed into the couple's 4WD near the turnoff to Hot Water Beach on Friday afternoon.

Philip Derrick was hospitalised with serious injuries.

Dickey and his wife were also injured and treated at Thames Hospital. The couple were due to fly out the day after the crash.

Dickey appeared remorseful when standing in the dock, and was supported in court by his wife.

The court heard that at the time of the crash, Dickey and his wife thought they saw two sets of headlights coming towards them. As there was a bank on their left, he veered as far right as he could and was almost off the road, on the fog line, at the time of impact.

His lawyer, Mike McIvor, asked if his client could be sentenced immediately, although he was open to a restorative justice conference.

McIvor said his client had no money but had been able to raise $4000 from family and friends at home for emotional harm reparation.

The lawyer said he was worried that if the case was remanded for a lengthy period for a restorative justice conference, the money would be used up by Dickey and his wife on living expenses.

Community Magistrate Susan Hovell said she would prefer Philip Derrick was given an opportunity to meet with Dickey, with a date for that to be set today. "Any accident is a tragedy. However, a restorative justice conference does help the healing process if they're able to meet."

In remanding Dickey on further bail, Hovell told him that she "had little doubt that you are totally haunted at finding you have been responsible for Mrs Derrick's death and injury to Mr Derrick".

"This will remain with you forever."

Hovell said she was aware that Robyn Derrick's funeral was being held today. She said sentencings like this were "the hardest" as nothing could restore the life lost or be seen as the right amount of fairness or justice.

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Hovell said it was clear from Derrick's victim impact statement that he was still suffering from his wife's loss.

The court appearance comes days after Dutch tourist Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, appeared in Christchurch District Court on three charges of careless driving causing death, and one of careless driving causing injury after a crash which claimed the lives of Sally Summerfield, 49, her daughter Ella and Ella's best friend Abi, both 12.

CALL TO EDUCATE FOREIGN DRIVERS

Four Kiwis died as a result of fatal crashes involving tourists over Queen's Birthday weekend, prompting calls for better education of tourists before they drive on New Zealand roads.

There were 41 crashes in the Waikato region since 2002 (including 20 in the past five years) to January 2014, involving drivers on overseas licences.

Recent figures released by the New Zealand Transport Agency said tourists were at fault in 78 per cent of the fatal crashes.

Robyn Derrick, 52, was killed in the Coromandel when a campervan driven by American Cody James Dickey allegedly crossed the centreline and hit her 4WD. Ella Yasmin Summerfield, 12, her mother Sally Vanessa Summerfield, 49, and Abigail "Abi" Ann Hone, 12, all died when a Dutch tourist ran a stop sign in Rakaia.

Waikato District Road Policing Manager Inspector Freda Grace said the Coromandel smash was "an absolute tragedy".

Grace said she could not add to commentary surrounding restrictions for overseas driver.

Following the Coromandel crash, Thames-Coromandel deputy mayor Peter French said more needed to be done to educate overseas drivers about our roads.

Overseas visitors can drive in New Zealand with an international licence, or a country-of-origin licence, if their country is a signatory to a UN convention guaranteeing driving rights. Police assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said there would be penalties for Kiwis wanting to drive overseas if New Zealand were to step away from that agreement.

The terms and conditions for hiring a vehicle from various firms can be found online. The JUCY Rentals website, for example, said its vehicles may be hired and driven only by the person specified as an authorised driver in the rental agreement, and only if they hold a valid driver's licence.

JUCY does not hire out vehicles to drivers under 18. JUCY also states a licence classified as or comparable to a restricted licence or Australian probationary (P Plate) licence will be accepted, however the authorised driver is bound by any restrictions or conditions in connection with that licence. JUCY's frequently asked questions page refers drivers to a free testing website. It was not known which firm may have hired out the campervan to Dickey.

South Canterbury youngster Sean Roberts, 9, launched a petition this year in memory of his father, Grant Roberts, who was killed in November 2012 when a tourist crashed into his motorcycle.The petition aims to prevent tourists driving on New Zealand roads without sitting a test.

- Waikato Times

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