Wednesday, April 15
The family of the Oamaru five-year-old, who died following a vehicle collision near Moeraki in February, are pleased a judge has recognised the “seriousness” of the incident.
Jing Cao, 32, reappeared before Judge Kevin Phillips in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on one charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Ruby Marris and five charges of dangerous driving causing injury following a two-vehicle collision on February 21.
Ruby’s uncle, Chris Cant, speaking on behalf of the family, said it was good that Judge Phillips said during Cao’s reappearance that the incident was serious.
The court case had been difficult for the family because it had dragged memories and emotions back up but having it finished would help the family move forward, he said.
“It’s just part of the process for my family of moving on.”
Although they would never really move on, they were trying to accept what had happened, he said.
“There’s no winner in it.”
A small group of family members went to the court hearing in Dunedin yesterday, he said.
Cao pleaded guilty to all charges during the appearance and was remanded on bail to reappear in court for sentencing on June 9.
The court heard Cao made a “terrible mistake” and veered into the right-hand lane of State Highway 1 after visiting the Moeraki boulders with his family on February 21.
Soon after crossing the centre line he drove over a brow in the road and saw the Marris’ family’s vehicle coming towards him.
The drivers of both vehicles attempted to avoid the collision but veered in the same direction and collided head on.
Ruby died at the scene and her parents, Tristan and Kimberley, suffered serious injuries from the crash.
Ruby’s sisters, Georgia, 9, and Sophie, 7, were passengers in the car and sustained moderate injuries.
Cao’s driving caused serious injuries to his 60-year-old mother, who was a passenger in his rented four-wheel drive Ford Ranger.
Ruby was farewelled during a service attended by more than 450 friends and family at St Patrick’s Basilica on March 5.
This incident, and other recent collisions involving foreign drivers sparked a call for tourist driving law change throughout the country with many from Oamaru voicing their concern.
More than 240 people from Oamaru signed a petition calling for a change in tourist driving laws, while it was available at the Oamaru Mail office for two weeks in March.
– Additional reporting ODT