Topic: Transport

Death sparks petition for compulsory Tourist drivers course

By Harata Brown, Heeni Brown
  • Northland

Ahipara woman Kylee Ann Rakich was pregnant when she was killed in a car accident caused by a tourist driver. Now, her whānau are pushing a petition to have tourists take mandatory drivers courses.

The loss of Kylee Ann Rakich, her unborn child, and Virginia Keogh has sparked a call for change.

Kylee Ann's older sister Leash King told Native Affairs, “My sister's partner made a promise to her that he would make a stand against tourist drivers so that this doesn't happen to any other families. At the time, I felt his pain. So, I said I'd back him up 100 percent, so I started this petition.”

Leash King's 29-year-old sister and her friend were killed in a car crash on April 30, as they drove along State Highway 10 in Puketona.

American tourist Thomas James Springer was the other driver involved in the crash.

Mrs. King is leading a new petition, calling on tourists to undertake a two-week mandatory driver’s course before driving on New Zealand roads.

“You know two weeks is nothing. Even if they did the course in their own country before they came here, even something like that, even that would help,” Mrs. King said.  

Springer has pleaded guilty to three charges including two counts of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death and one of careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury. The charges carry a maximum penalty of three months jail and a $4000 fine.

Mrs. King says, “That's a joke. It has to be. A $4000 fine for three people and three months in jail that he might not have to do because of his condition, you know that's hard. That's hard to get your head around.”

Thomas James Springer is expected to be sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court this Saturday. 

Native Affairs will have more on this story at 8pm tonight, Māori Television.