Triple fatality driver had previous crash

The Dutch businessman involved in a crash that killed three people near Rakaia had a previous crash in Canterbury, it has been revealed.

Senior Sergeant Scott Banfield confirmed information obtained by The Christchurch Star that Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, had been involved in another accident.

"We are aware of that [previous crash]. We have information at hand and are investigating that," he told The Star yesterday.

"It took place in Canterbury. There was no other party involved."

Senior Sergeant Banfield would not discuss any other details of the previous crash, or when it happened. However, he said it formed a part of the police investigation into the fatal crash near Rakaia.

Contrary to previous reports, Appelman is not a tourist, but a regular visitor to Canterbury with business interests in the province.

He has been charged with causing the deaths of Sumner woman Sally Summerfield, 49, her daughter Ella, and Ella's friend Abi Hone, both 12, when his vehicle allegedly failed to stop at an intersection on Queen's Birthday Weekend.

He has been remanded on bail to appear before the district court on July 10.

Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane was seriously injured in the crash. He was discharged from Christchurch Hospital on Monday, and is expected to attend his wife and daughter's funeral at Sumner School hall tomorrow.

He was not well enough to attend Abi Hone's funeral on Monday.

"From the medical advice we received, [Shane] was very, very lucky to survive the accident," said Senior Sergeant Banfield.

Appelman had checked into a Christchurch hotel at around 1am on the morning of the crash. Senior Sergeant Banfield said tiredness was not a factor in the investigation.

He said speeding had also been ruled out as Appelman was travelling at the open road speed limit of 100 km/h.

He said police did not believe alcohol was a factor, but were still waiting to receive results from a blood sample test.

The Summerfields and Abi Hone had been travelling to Lake Ohau for a Queen's Birthday Weekend getaway.

Soon after the crash, Abi's older brother Ed Hone posted on Facebook that his family did not want people to blame Appelman for the crash.

"Everyone has to understand that the man will be feeling every bit as hurt as we all are," he said.

Senior Sergeant Banfield said police would wait until after the funeral to contact Mr Summerfield in regards to him making a statement about the crash.

He said the statement would not be crucial to the case as "the evidence we have is independent and sufficient."

Meanwhile, more than 2000 mourners attended Abi Hone's funeral on Monday.

Friends and family sang musical tributes to her during the two hour service.

Posters of Abi with the words "Love You"were stuck to the walls of the Sumner School hall.

- By Max Towle of the Christchurch Star

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