Tourist in court over motorcyclists' deaths

A Chinese visitor to New Zealand appeared in the Alexandra District Court today facing two counts of careless driving causing death, following a double fatality in the Lindis Pass on Monday.

The collision claimed the lives of two motorcyclists, and injured a pillion passenger.

The 20-year-old Chinese woman was granted bail and will reappear in court next month.

Grant John Roberts, 43, of Timaru, and Dennis Michael Pederson, 54, of Tauranga, died at the scene after their motorbikes were involved in a crash with another vehicle on Lindis Pass yesterday. The accident happened on State Highway 8, 19km north of Tarras in Central Otago, about 2.15pm.

A female pillion passenger on the rear of one of the motorcycles remains in a critical condition in Dunedin Hospital. Her name will not be released.

Central Otago police sub area commander Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said police had charged the woman with two counts of careless driving causing death.

The woman was injured and was receiving medical treatment.

"While we have a clear picture of what occurred, we are still asking for witnesses to come forward regarding the driving behaviour of both groups involved prior to the crash," Mr Kerrisk said.

"We are particularly interested in movements of a dark coloured Nissan sedan with a single female occupant travelling south from Omarama towards Cromwell between midday and 2.15pm yesterday. We believe that this vehicle was following a white stationwagon a short time before the crash occurred. We would like the driver of that white stationwagon to contact police.

"We would also appreciate any witnesses who saw a group of 8-10 motorcyclists on large Harley Davidson motorcycles travelling from Cromwell towards Omarama yesterday afternoon around the same time."

Mr Kerrisk said alcohol was not suspected to be a factor in the crash.