3 May 2016

Call to charge tourist for death of unborn baby

9:02 pm on 3 May 2016

The family of a pregnant woman killed in a Northland crash on Saturday says the driver who caused the accident should also be charged with the death of her unborn baby.

New Zealand Coat of Arms

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Kylee Rakich, 29, and Virginia Keogh were killed when the car they were travelling in crashed head-on with a car driven by an American tourist.

Ms Rakich's partner and her five-year-old daughter were injured.

The 66-year-old man who had been in New Zealand only a day or two, has been charged with two counts of careless driving causing death.

But Ms Rakich's sister Leash King said her sister was eight months pregnant and the driver of the vehicle should also be charged with the death of the unborn baby, Harper.

"I felt that was unjustified that... he got only charged with two and not the three of them. That was really hard for the whole family, not just myself."

Ms King said she felt some compassion for the Californian driver but his mistake had taken three lives.

Ms Rakich said her sister's partner had his jaw broken in three places and his teeth knocked out in the crash. Ms Rakich also had a five-year-old daughter.

"They're managing his pain but he is just....gutted ," Ms King said. "He blames himself for the deaths, which is so wrong, because he tried to swerve to the right and avoid the other car."

"But the other driver swerved in the same direction and hit the passenger side of my sister's car," she said.

Ms Rakich said she did not believe the tourist should have been on the road, especially when it was getting dark.

"I don't think they should be driving at all after just a day or so in the country. They should have to sit a test, or have a curfew or go for a drive with an instructor first," she said.

Ms Rakich's relatives have gathered at Ahipara in the Far North for her tangi and she will be buried on Thursday, with her unborn baby.

The American tourist, who had recently retired and was on a short holiday in the Bay of Islands with his wife, will appear in the Kaikohe District Court on Friday.