Tourist takes blame for horrific crash


(eTN) – An Austrian tourist has admitted careless driving charges after a horrific south Canterbury crash, which killed four people.

The victims were all on a charity bike ride when they were hit by the tourist in her campervan.

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Traumatised and struggling, 30-year-old Heike Schellnegger, tried to hold back tears as she fronted up to plead guilty in court to all the charges she was facing.

“Her deep sense of grief is not for her current predictament but for the families of the victims who are suffering the most tragic and devastating loss. Her sadness for them is overwhelming. She is truely sorry for the pain she has caused,” said Schellnegger’s lawyer, Richard Raymond.

The court heard how the campervan the Austrian architect was driving, drifted left, then went back across the centre line before ploughing into four motorbikes on a charity bike ride.

Forty-five-year-old Gavin MacDonald was killed instantly – his 11-year old daughter Olivia, was thrown 10 metres. She was airlifted to hospital but died the next day.

A 31-year-old British tourist Jonathan Hale and his partner Vivian Butler were also killed.

The bike riders had been delivering christmas presents for under privileged children.

The rally organiser Dave Lowrey says he has some sympathy for the driver but everyone involved is hurting.

Those involved in the rally will be meeting up this weekend.

“We need to talk it over, we need to work through it, otherwise I feel that ride that day will never end. We’ll be riding forever on that day,” said Lowrey.

Schellnegger will be back in court in two weeks for sentencing.

The father and daughter who died will be farewelled at a funeral on Friday.