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A Singaporean tourist has admitted responsibility for the death of an elderly Riverton man who was killed in a head-on collision on State Highway 1 near Clinton 13 days ago.
Kok Wei Ko, an engineer, appeared in the Dunedin District Court last Friday, his 26th birthday, to answer five charges arising from the head-on crash near Kuriwao, east of Clinton.
Through counsel Brian Kilkelly, Ko admitted causing the death of Neville Westbrooke Squires and injury to Michelle Squires, Yauen Loy, Shu Juan Lee and Bing Yao Lim by driving in a dangerous manner on November 13.
He was convicted and remanded on bail for pre-sentence and reparation reports and for sentence on December 5.
All details of the hearing were suppressed by Judge Dominic Flatley at the request of the police and the defence until after the funeral of 82-year-old Mr Squires, which was held on Saturday.
Mr Squires was the front-seat passenger in a Mercedes car being driven south by his daughter, Michelle Squires, about 1.10pm on November 13. At the same time, the defendant Ko was driving north with three passengers in a rented Toyota Rav 4 in which they had been travelling since arriving in New Zealand nine days earlier.
The Toyota had been following a large truck for a short distance when Ko pulled out to overtake on a section of road marked with double yellow no-passing lines.
The truck and the Toyota were side by side as the southbound Mercedes came over an incline and the Mercedes and the Toyota collided head-on, the main impact being to the passenger sides of the two vehicles.
Prosecutor Acting Sergeant Kate Saxton said Mr Squires sustained massive impact forces in the collision.
Although the passenger's side air bag was activated, it could not negate the force of the impact and Mr Squires was killed.
Michelle Squires was flown to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter.
She had a fractured rib that punctured her lung, a fractured lower leg and a sprained wrist.
The three passengers in the Toyota were also injured.
Yauen Loy, the left rear passenger, was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital, where she had surgery for a laceration to the pancreas that was causing internal bleeding.
The right rear passenger, Shu Juan Lee, was also airlifted to Dunedin. She had a dislocated and fractured right hip and leg injuries and has since returned to Singapore for medical treatment.
Bing Yao Lim, the front-seat passenger in the Toyota, was taken to Dunedin Hospital by ambulance. He had fractures to his left foot and his lower lumbar spine.
Ko told police he had been following the truck, saw he had 40m of clear visibility and decided to overtake.
He said he was midway through passing when he saw the approaching Mercedes and steered the Toyota to the right to avoid the oncoming car.
He also said he knew that two yellow lines in New Zealand meant you could not overtake.
He said "it was carelessness by myself" and "It was not a safe place to overtake", Acting Sgt Saxton told the court.