Fatal crash accused dies

A Cromwell man who was charged after a fatal two-car crash has died.

Max James Birtles, 63, died on January 27 after a long illness.

Mr Birtles was involved in a crash on State Highway 8 near Butchers dam, Central Otago, on July 29.

He was driver of a Holden four-wheel-drive vehicle that was involved in a head-on collision with a Toyota Caldina stationwagon.

The driver of the Toyota, United States national Kirra Lee Smith, 23, was killed instantly.

Mr Birtles was charged with careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury but had planned to defend the charges.

However, court proceedings were stayed on medical grounds when the case was heard before Judge Stephen Coyle in the Dunedin District Court in December.

The Southland Times