Sam Boyer

Sam Boyer is a police reporter for the NZ Herald.

Family's plea to drivers after tragedy

Mother, sister of woman killed in wrong-way crash speak out against drink-driving.

Karen Yong.
Karen Yong.

Two weeks after a wrong-way driver killed Karen Yong, her mother and sister can't bear to pack up her life into cardboard boxes.

The women, grieving at Ms Yong's loss and angry at the 31-year-old driver, are due to fly home to Malaysia this week.

Sharon Yong and mother Marina Lee wanted to raise awareness about the "gross negligence, mindlessness and unconscionable misconduct" of drink-drivers.

Police have previously said alcohol was believed to be a factor in the crash that killed the 49-year-old.

Since 2000, more than 1600 people have been killed in crashes involving drink-drivers.

"She was a very kind person. She was a loving daughter. Everyone had a kind word for her," her mother said yesterday. "Now there's just emptiness."

The Yong family said they wanted her death to be an example of the pain caused by irresponsible drivers.

After the crash, doctors were able to keep Ms Yong alive just long enough for her family to arrive from Kuala Lumpur.

Mrs Lee said: "I prayed all the way, hoping for a miracle. But no. Her whole body was broken."

The family are now tasked with packing up her belongings in her Mt Wellington home. They will fly with her ashes back to Malaysia this week and have a private memorial with her brother and father, who did not travel for the funeral here last weekend.

The thought of packing up her life was still too daunting a task, Sharon Yong said. They would likely return in a couple of months to tidy up the estate.

Senior Constable Karl Bevin said the South Auckland wrong-way driver was released from hospital late last week. She would be interviewed by police today or tomorrow, he said.

After entering the motorway at the Mt Wellington off-ramp in the wrong lane, she drove south in the northbound lanes, narrowly missing about 20 vehicles before colliding with Ms Yong's car near the East Tamaki interchange, about 12.40am on Friday, May 30.

Ms Yong had been in Auckland for 28 years. Previously a secretary, she retrained in New Zealand and became an accountant.

- NZ Herald

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