French tourist charged over fatal collision


A French tourist faces charges over a fatal collision with a motorbike in Waikato.

Federic Andre Bignon, 40, appeared in the Hamilton District Court yesterday on two charges of careless driving causing injury or death.

They relate to a head-on collision near Te Kuiti, in the King Country, on Saturday afternoon.

The crash killed James Aitken, 38, of Te Kuiti and seriously injured his wife, Jaqueline, who was riding pillion.

Bignon entered no plea and was remanded on bail to appear again this month. He has surrendered his passport.

The incident was one of many involving tourists over the holiday period, prompting calls to better educate visitors before they drive here.

American tourist Peter Magrath is heading home to Washington DC with his wife’s ashes after she was hit by a car in Marlborough.

Deborah Howell was hit on January 2 when she stepped on to the road to take a photograph. She was rushed to hospital, but died a short time later.

Mr Magrath said he believed his wife had looked the wrong way before stepping on to the road because she was not used to cars driving on the left.

Detective Sergeant John Hamilton of Blenheim said police were still investigating the incident and were keeping an open mind about whether charges would be laid against the car’s driver.

On Tuesday last week, German cyclist Mia Susanne Pusch was killed when she was hit by a truck and trailer travelling in the same direction north of Bulls, in the Manawatu.

In the South Island, police said they had warned tourists to slow down around spots such as Queenstown and Milford Sound and had handed out dozens of speeding tickets, including one to a tourist caught driving at 151km/h, and many others at more than 140km/h.

The crashes have prompted police to warn tourists to slow down and get used to our traffic rules.

In the Waikato, road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said that with the World Rowing Cup at Lake Karapiro in October and November, followed by next year’s Rugby World Cup, drumming in the road safety message, particularly about keeping to the left, was a serious priority.