The crash scene where two motorcyclists died on the Lindis
Pass in November 2012. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
About two hours before a Chinese woman killed two
motorcyclists, a motorist reported her ''erratic'' driving
behaviour to police via a *555 call.
Designated Coroner Richard McElrea, of Christchurch, resumed
the inquest into the deaths of Grant John Roberts (43), of
Timaru, and Dennis Michael Pederson (54), of Tauranga, in the
Queenstown District Court yesterday.
He found Mr Roberts died as a result of cervical spine and
brain injuries, while Mr Pederson died from a transection of
the aorta, both on November 26, 2012, after their motorcycles
collided with Kejia Zheng's rental car on State Highway 8,
about 20km north of Tarras.
Forensic crash analyst Senior Constable Alastair Crosland, of
Alexandra, said Zheng had ''negligible independent driving
experience'' just before the crash and ''none at all'' in the
preceding 10 months.
Zheng obtained her Chinese driver's licence in December 2011
and within six weeks had moved to Australia to study, where
she gained no driving experience.
On November 24, 2012, Zheng flew from Sydney to Christchurch;
the next day she hired a rental car with her Chinese licence
and drove to Lake Tekapo for the night.
As she was travelling south from Lake Tekapo on November 26,
she was observed driving erratically by Cheryl van Opzeeland,
who called police.
Police Southern Communications Centre manager Inspector
Kieren Kortegast told Mr McElrea Ms van Opzeeland called at
11.57am describing Zheng's driving behaviour.
''The complainant informed the call taker the vehicle was
being driven in an erratic manner, she was using all of her
side of the road, she was over the centre line and then back
over the white line on the left of the road, passing on
double yellow lines and was seen to be slowing down and then
Ms van Opzeeland told police Zheng pulled over near Lake
Insp Kortegast said the Twizel constable was on the way to
the area four minutes, 14 seconds after the incident was
reported but could not find Zheng's vehicle, probably because
she had diverted from the highway.
Snr Const Crosland said a second motorist later told police
she had to take evasive action south of Lake Pukaki after
Zheng pulled out in front of her.
Mr Roberts and Mr Pederson were part of a group of
motorcyclists attending the Burt Munro Challenge event in
The crash occurred after Zheng lost control of the vehicle
and the men were unable to take evasive action.
A pillion passenger was seriously injured and another
motorcyclist received minor injuries.
''Kejia Zheng was not a competent driver in these
circumstances,'' Snr Const Crosland said.
Zheng told police in a statement ''the car just crashed into
them''. She said the road was ''not very straight'' and she
found her vehicle on the left-side of the road so she ''moved
it to the middle''.
She was convicted in the Alexandra District Court after
admitting two charges of careless driving causing death and
two of careless driving causing injury, disqualified from
driving for two years and ordered to pay $10,000 in
Mr McElrea did not issue any formal findings or make any
recommendations yesterday, but said he would examine the
regulatory background relating to driver's licences issued to
overseas people in New Zealand.
''I will be inviting further input from the police, through
the national police headquarters, on possible legislation
changes that may assist the police in dealing with situations
such as have been highlighted by this particular case.''