19 Jun 2013

Tourist deaths caused by distracted driver, coroner rules

6:40 pm on 19 June 2013

A Coroner has found two tourists died in a collision in Marlborough when the driver became distracted after apparently trying to eat spaghetti and sauce.

Frenchman Paul Joubert and Onur Gulmez from Germany were driving towards Nelson near the Rai Valley on 5 December last year.

The rear passenger seat and seatbelts had been removed from the car and replaced with an unsecured metal frame.

Mr Gulmez was driving, while Mr Joubert was sitting or lying on the frame.

Coroner Tim Scott said on Wednesday there was evidence of spaghetti and sauce on the steering wheel and on Mr Gulmez's clothes, but none in his mouth.

Mr Scott ruled that the crash occurred because Mr Gulmez became distracted as he prepared to eat. The car crossed the centre line and collided with a utility vehicle.