Family 'lucky to escape with their lives'

A Rotorua judge says a family of German tourists are lucky to be alive after the car a Chinese tourist was driving crashed into them on State Highway 5.

Peng Liu, a 32-year-old Chinese national, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court today after previously pleading guilty to three charges of careless driving causing serious injury.

On December 30, Liu was driving on State Highway 5 near Reporoa when his vehicle crossed the centre line, crashing into a car and seriously injuring a German husband and wife and their teenage son.

The 15-year-old and his 44-year-old mother remain in Waikato Hospital and are both in stable conditions in wards.

Liu was ordered to pay the victims $20,000 in reparation before he could leave New Zealand.

He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months, though Judge James Weir said he did not know how it would take effect in China.

Judge Weir said the family were fortunate to survive.

"Those German tourists were lucky to escape with their lives," he said.

"A clear message needs to be sent out to foreign drivers who come into this country and cause this sort of mayhem.

"[There's] no reason at all an accident should happen on that road if someone was paying due care and attention. You were not."

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