Chinese driver had limited experience

Chinese driver in NZ one day before fatal crash

Last updated 14:38 04/04/2014
Grant Roberts with sons Sean and Cody

KILLED ON LINDIS PASS: Grant Roberts with sons Sean and Cody.

Kejia Zheng
KEJIA ZHENG: Had only been in New Zealand one day when the accident happened.

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A Chinese student probably had less than a month's driving experience before a fatal crash on the Lindis Pass, an inquest has heard.

Grant Roberts, 43, of Timaru, and Dennis Pederson, 54, of Tauranga, were killed when a rental car driven by Kejia Zhang, 20, crashed into their convoy in November 2012.

Zhang hit gravel, over-corrected and crossed the centre line.

Family members, including Roberts' mother and his former partner, Mel Pipson, attended an inquest before coroner Richard McElrea in the Queenstown District Court today.

The bikers were part of a northbound convoy of 10 motorcycles returning from the Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill when Zheng collided with the group at 2.15pm near Goodger Rd, 20 kilometres north of Tarras.

The two men died at the scene, a female pillion passenger was seriously injured and another biker suffered minor injuries.

Forensic crash analyst Senior Constable Alastair Crosland, of Alexandra, told the court that Zhang had little independent driving experience – probably less than a month – since gaining a licence in China and none in the 10 months before the crash.

She had been in New Zealand one day when she crashed the rental car.

"The collision was a direct consequence of Zhang losing control of her vehicle after moving too far to the left," Crosland said. "[She] was not a competent driver in these circumstance."

Zhang was convicted in the Alexandra District Court, disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay $10,000 in emotional-harm payments for causing the deaths of the two men and injuring two others.

The inquest continues, and the coroner said his findings would be reserved.

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- The Southland Times


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