Singaporean in New Zealand fatal crash charged with dangerous driving

The scene of the accident along the state highway in North Otago, about 20km south of Oamaru, on Nov 29. The Singaporean's rented Toyota crashed into two cars and a motorcycle while trying to overtake a group of cars by allegedly crossing the double
The scene of the accident along the state highway in North Otago, about 20km south of Oamaru, on Nov 29. The Singaporean's rented Toyota crashed into two cars and a motorcycle while trying to overtake a group of cars by allegedly crossing the double yellow lines.PHOTO: @GUNNY_NZ/INSTAGRAM

Motorcyclist killed in four-vehicle accident; colleague in Singaporean's car seriously hurt

A Singaporean man has been charged with dangerous driving in a four-vehicle accident in New Zealand that killed a motorcyclist.

Lew Wei Kiong, 29, was charged last Friday with one count of dangerous driving causing death and was due to appear in the Dunedin District Court on Tuesday but his case was adjourned to Dec 22.

Three new charges of dangerous driving causing injury are expected to be brought against him, according to the Otago Daily Times.

Lew, who works at the Energy Market Authority (EMA), was involved in the accident along the state highway in North Otago, about 20km south of Oamaru, on Nov 29.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an EMA spokesman said two of its staff members had been in a car accident while on holiday in New Zealand. One of them is still in hospital.

  • Accidents involving Singaporeans overseas

  • July 2015: A Singaporean businessman died on the spot after the Porsche he was driving rammed into a road divider on Malaysia's Second Link highway and plunged into a ravine.

    October 2014: A Singapore Airlines pilot ran a stop sign at a cross-junction while driving a rented car in Christchurch, New Zealand. The car collided with a four-wheel-drive vehicle towing a horse trailer. Two of his colleagues were seriously injured.

    June 2012: A newly-wed couple died on their honeymoon in New Zealand when their car collided with a camper van. They were married only eight days before they were killed in the two-vehicle crash in Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland.

"Our immediate concern is to render care and support to help them through this difficult time. As this case is now before the courts in New Zealand, it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comments at this time," the spokesman added.

Lew was driving a rented Toyota and allegedly crossed the double yellow lines on the highway to overtake a group of cars, reported stuff.co.nz. He crashed into two cars and a motorcycle travelling in the opposite direction.

The passenger in the Toyota, reported by Lianhe Wanbao to be a 31-year-old female colleague, was extricated from the car after rescuers cut through the wreckage, and flown to Dunedin Public Hospital with serious injuries. She is believed to be a Singaporean.

The motorcyclist, 39-year-old Craig Alan Chambers, died at the scene. Five other people were hurt.

The New Zealand police blamed the crash on driver "inattention".

The accident reportedly reignited a debate over tourist drivers and the condition of roads in New Zealand, with Labour Party MP Damien O'Connor suggesting that poor road design was a factor.

He said certain roads on the country's south island could be confusing for foreign drivers and clearer signage was needed.

Singapore Safety Driving Centre operations manager Gerard Pereira said Singaporeans may not be used to the grind of driving long distances. "In other countries, sections of road from one state to another can be vast. In Singapore, it's mostly urban and even if you drive from end to end, you'll meet with a traffic jam," he said.

He advised Singaporean drivers not to speed overseas, especially if they are not familiar with the roads.

"If the other drivers are not overtaking, don't do it too. There must be a reason they are not doing so."

•Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'S'porean in NZ crash charged with dangerous driving'. Print Edition | Subscribe