Ban them for life: crash victim


A Queenstown woman smashed up in a car crash wants life-time bans for tourists who get driving convictions.

Mary Keith, 63, was injured in a nasty head-on crash with young Frenchman Gaspard Jacques Rubin on the Crown Range on February 18.

Keith - the Bob’s Weigh cafe owner with pink hair and a pink motorbike – broke her sternum.

She also suffered whiplash, friction burns, severe bruising from the seat belt, a chipped tooth, a sprained left foot, and bruising to her knees and face.

Rubin, 22, admitted one charge of aggravated careless driving causing injury.

Witnesses say he’d driven up to a kilometre on the wrong side of road before hitting Keith’s car about 800m from the summit, although he denied that.

He was ordered to pay her $5000, fined $500 and disqualified from driving for nine months.

Keith says: “He shouldn’t be allowed to drive on our roads again.

“I’d ban them for life – any tourist driver who gets a driving conviction over here.

“And they shouldn’t be allowed on difficult roads like the Crown Range.”

Judge Bernadette Farnan, sentencing on Monday, says Keith’s victim impact statement showed she’d been “severely impacted both physically and emotionally”.

Farnan adds: “[It shows] quite graphically the serious consequences of a momentary lapse in good driving.”

Keith’s statement says she’s been left a “quivering mess unable to sleep at night” due to pain and flashbacks from the 5pm crash.

She adds: “I saw him coming towards me, knew he was going to hit me, and thought this is going to f***ing hurt.

“I braced myself and waited for impact. There was nothing I could do because there were cars on the right side of the road behind him. Nowhere to go.”

Rubin, while remorseful, maintains he drifted on to the wrong side of the road after looking down at his speedo.

Keith, returning on the day from a support visit to a Wanaka couple with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, says that’s rubbish.

She was too angry to go through the restorative justice process.

Rubin, a month into a working holiday visa, broke his foot in the crash. He was driving a car he’d bought, rather than a rental.

Keith, who’s recovering and expects to return to work soon, says she’d also like to see foreign drivers be tested in simulators.

She also warns other motorists about jewellery worn underneath a seat belt - her sternum was fractured by a gold Karen Walker skull and crossbones.

Two weeks ago, in Queenstown’s court, four tourist drivers were convicted of dangerous driving.

All crossed centrelines, three of them repeatedly and the other at 157kmh, forcing oncoming drivers to take evasive action.

Ministry of Transport land transport safety boss Brent Johnston says legislation provides judges with the discretion to disqualify overseas drivers on NZ roads “for such period as the court thinks fit”.

Johnston says the $25 million Visiting Drivers Project aims to improve road safety in key tourist routes.