School offers support

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The school of a 5-year-old girl who died as a result of a serious crash that occurred near Moeraki on Saturday is working with the Ministry of Education to support pupils and staff.

The two-vehicle crash between a southbound Ford Ranger Ute rental vehicle and a northbound Holden Cruze station wagon occurred 200m north of the turn-off to the Moeraki township on State Highway One at about 4.50pm.

Ruby Jay Marris (5), who attended Ardgowan School, died at the scene and her mother, father aged 41 and two sisters aged 9 and 7 were flown to Dunedin Public Hospital with serious injuries.

They all remain in a stable condition.

Four occupants of the other vehicle, all Chinese nationals, were taken to Oamaru Hospital by road.

Three suffered minor injuries and have since been discharged. The fourth, a middle-aged woman, remains in Oamaru Hospital with moderate injuries. Ardgowan School principal Julie French said the school had been working with the Ministry of Education to support pupils, staff and family.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very sad time.”

Out of respect for the family the school did not want to make any further comment, she said.

A 32-year-old Beijing resident appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on one charge of dangerous driving causing death and four charges of dangerous driving causing injury in relation to the incident.

He was granted interim name suppression and a ban on publication of photos of him after an application by his lawyer Michael Kan, of Auckland, because of fears for his safety.

Mr Kan was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Oamaru Mail.

The defendant entered no plea to any of the charges and was remanded on bail to an Auckland address.

He will reappear in the Dunedin District Court on March 13.

Tributes and calls for law changes have flowed on Facebook since the incident, including condolence messages from the Oamaru Boxing Club and other Oamaru residents.

“On behalf of all of us at Oamaru Boxing Club Waitaki Warriors we send our deepest condolences and support to the brother and his family through this sad time.”

A post to Prime Minister John Key’s Facebook page said “definitely time to introduce the compulsory drivers test for tourists after yet another death of a young child”.

Another said: “It’s about time something was done. For years too many families have suffered losses on our roads due to tourists. I am all for people having the right to drive on holiday but not at the expense of our families.”

“How many more times is this going to happen before something is done? Enough is enough.”

An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way and police ask that anyone who witnessed the crash contact their local police station.

By Ruby Harfield

PHOTO: ODT – The scene of the accident where a 5-year-old Oamaru girl died near Moeraki on Saturday.