21 Mar 2017

US doctor admits causing fatal NZ crash

8:00 pm on 21 March 2017

An American heart surgeon on holiday in New Zealand has admitted charges of careless driving that caused a double fatality in Nelson last month.

At least five people have been injured in a crash between Richmond and Mapua on the Coastal Highway in Tasman District

The scene of the multi-vehicle pile-up on the Coastal Highway between Richmond and Mapua. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Appearing in the Nelson District Court today, Kenneth Wolnak, 63, also admitted four charges of causing injury, after he did a u-turn on a highway near Mapua in late February, causing an accident involving three vehicles.

The court heard how Wolnak did the u-turn when he realised they were heading the wrong way.

A 41-year-old father of two from Nelson and a 69-year-old Christchurch man were killed, and several passengers from each vehicle, including Wolnak's wife, were injured.

Nelson lawyer Tony Bamford said Wolnak was struggling to come to terms with what happened.

"It's a tragic set of circumstances for all concerned, particularly the families of the victims. I know that Mr Wolnak's position is that he feels horrified that he's caused such carnage."

Judge Bruce Davidson remanded Wolnak on bail for emotional harm and reparation reports, and restorative justice.

He said home detention or community detention had to be considered.

Wolnak will be sentenced next month.