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A foreign tourist's instinctive reaction to swerve to the right when faced with an oncoming car resulted in serious injury to his wife and the woman driving the other vehicle, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.
Danish national Kurt Joergensen and his wife were eight days into a three-week holiday in New Zealand when their south-bound Nissan rental car drifted across the centre line on an easy right hand bend on State Highway 6 near Makarora last Tuesday. About the same time, Haast woman Patricia Nolan was rounding the same bend in a Nissan Cefiro, travelling north. Joergensen suddenly realised he needed to take evasive action.
The 57-year-old Dane had been living in China for the past three years and his 40 years of driving had been on the right-hand side of the road so he instinctively swerved to the right, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said.
His car went completely into the northbound lane, colliding with the left front area of Ms Nolan's vehicle as she swerved to the left. Both cars were extensively damaged and ''written off''.
Both women were seriously injured in the collision, Ms Nolan suffering immediate deafness in her right ear, although that was now subsiding. She had fractured bones in both feet, fractured toes, fractured ribs and moderate bruising to her shoulder and stomach from the seat belt.
Joergensen's wife, Sin Kam Isabella Kong, fractured both bones in her right forearm. She also suffered a compression fracture to her lower spine and a fractured breastbone with significant displacement.
The defendant told police he realised he was over the centre line as he came around the bend. He thought the oncoming car was also over the line. He swerved to the right to avoid the other car but it swerved to its left and the collision occurred.
Joergensen admitted charges of causing injury to Ms Kong and Ms Nolan by driving carelessly on March 18.
Counsel Rochelle Crossman asked for the matter to be dealt with by payment of reparation and the mandatory disqualification.
The defendant hoped his insurance would cover all the reparation. He had no money available immediately but would be able to have money transferred from overseas by early next week.
He had lost more than $4000 in cash and valuables from the crashed car before he was able to gain access to it again.
Ms Nolan was claiming $7755.93 reparation for the replacement and recovery of her car, several weeks' lost wages, medical expenses and her reading glasses.
Judge Kevin Phillips adjourned the case to next Tuesday for Joergensen to organise the reparation.