Man admits careless driving causing death and injuries

Thalia Newport died after the van rolled in February. Photo: Givealittle
Thalia Newport died after the van rolled in February. Photo: Givealittle
A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty to careless driving following the death of an Invercargill woman and the injury of seven other people.

Aaron James Collinson, of Invercargill, crashed after he tried to avoid a pole earlier this year. 

Collinson appeared today at the Invercargill District Court where he faced eight charges - seven counts of careless driving causing injury to seven people and one count of careless driving causing death of Thalia Jayden Newport (20) in Winton on February 16.

The summary of facts stated that Collinson was driving from Queenstown to Invercargill in a van which consisted of three seats in the front with two bench seats fixed in the rear of the vehicle facing each other.

“The seats were not certified and did not contain any seatbelts for the rear passengers to utilise.”

Having left Queenstown, the group in the van socialised for some time before some went to sleep.

Upon reaching Winton, Collinson stopped the van for a short time before continuing his journey south on State Highway 6.

At approximately 4.30am, he left the Winton boundary where he drove past a slippery when wet sign warning drivers that for the next 2km the road could be slippery  and had a temporary 50km/h limit.

At the time, the road was damp and Collinson was driving at 100km/h.

A short distance out of the town boundary, Collinson steered left around a bend and the vehicle, at this point, drifted towards the left side of the road, crossing the fog line and driving into the water table ditch on the side of the road.

At the same time as the vehicle did this, it collided with the 50km/h temporary zone sign. It was estimated at that time that he was driving between 96 and 108km/h.

The van rotated sideways and rolled approximately six times over a distance of about 49 metres into a paddock.

The passenger’s siding door came off, flying into the air and hitting the power lines immediately above the crash scene.

“As the van was rolling all occupants who were unrestrained in the rear of the van were thrown from it at different points as it was rolling,” the summary of facts said.

Miss Newport was thrown from the van and her body became trapped under the vehicle on the driver’s side.  She died at the scene.

Seven other people sustained a number of injuries, ranging from moderate to serious.

Collinson told police the back of the van went into the opposite lane of the road and, as he saw a pole in front of him, he tried to avoid it before the van crashed.

He was not affected by alcohol or drugs.

The court heard reparation of $12,000 was being sought for the damage of the van.

Defence counsel Richard Smith told the court all victims were friends and he would seek in his submissions a disqualification, reparations and supervision sentencing for Collinson.

Community Magistrate Simon Heale remanded Collinson at large until sentencing on November 12.

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter