James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Crash tourist must meet victim's family

American faces conference with family of dead woman and injured husband

Cody Dickey leaves Hamilton District Court with his wife after admitting two charges of careless driving causing death and injury. Photo / Mike Walen
Cody Dickey leaves Hamilton District Court with his wife after admitting two charges of careless driving causing death and injury. Photo / Mike Walen

An American man was due to fly home with his wife the day after the vehicle he was driving crossed the centre line and collided with a four-wheel drive vehicle, killing an Auckland woman.

The Dickeys had been touring in their campervan for a week. Photo / One News
The Dickeys had been touring in their campervan for a week. Photo / One News

He's now in limbo as the crash victim's family wait to meet him at a restorative justice conference.

Cody Dickey of Newark, California, yesterday pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing the death of Robyn Eileen Derrick and another of careless driving causing injury to her husband, Phillip.

Police told the Hamilton District Court Dickey, 23, was driving in wet conditions around a bend on SH25 near Whenuakite when he crossed the centreline and collided with the Derricks' 4WD vehicle on May 30.

Mrs Derrick, 52, died at the scene while her husband, who was driving, was airlifted to Auckland City Hospital with serious injuries.

Community magistrate Sue Hovell ordered Dickey to surrender his passport to the court before remanding him at large so a date for a restorative justice conference with the Derrick family could be set in court today.

"I have little doubt that you are totally horrified by the finding that you are responsible for Mrs Derrick's death and the injuries to Mr Derrick," said Ms Hovell.

"This will remain with you forever -- however the consequences for the Derrick family are extremely severe."

A distraught Dickey, who at times could be seen quietly sobbing with his wife Lia Dickey, would not comment when approached outside court.

His lawyer Mike McIvor later said Dickey wished to convey his condolences to the Derrick family but he would be reserving any other comment for the restorative justice process.

The funeral for Mrs Derrick will be held in Papakura today.

Earlier, the court heard Dickey and his wife had been travelling around in their medium-sized campervan for about a week before the accident.

Mr McIvor said his client thought he saw two sets of headlights heading towards him as he went around the bend on SH25.

He said his client was "shocked" and "devastated" and without any support in New Zealand "really doesn't know where to go".

He said Dickey, who had planned to leave New Zealand on June 1, had no savings or notable assets in the US but raised $4000 through family and friends to pay toward the emotional harm caused.

Mr McIvor asked the court to convict his client and order he make the payment to the family so he could leave the country but Ms Hovell ordered that the possibility of a restorative justice conference be sought.

Meanwhile, an American tourist visiting the West Coast on a working holiday visa suffered a severe brain injury after driving drunk and crashing his car near Franz Josef Glacier on April 25.

Tyler Wood was fined $950 and banned from driving for six months when he appeared in Greymouth District Court this week.

Wood had been drinking at a bar in Franz Josef and was refused any more alcohol due to his intoxication. He got into his car and headed north but crashed 2km later. A blood test at Grey Base Hospital showed Wood had 120mcg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal adult limit is 80mcg.

Judge Robert Murfitt said nothing he could say to Wood compared to the brain injury. "Hopefully, youth and resilience will allow you to largely recover," the judge said.

- NZ Herald

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