American tourist Thomas James Springer will be sentenced today over the fatal crash that killed a pregnant 29-year-old, Kylee Anne Rakich, and another woman.

In an extraordinary display of compassion, Ms Rakich's sister will lobby the judge to not send the 66-year-old to prison on charges of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death - because, she says, he has already been handed "a life sentence" in being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Ms Rakich, her unborn child whom she had named Harper, and 44-year-old Virginia Pitman died when a vehicle driven by Springer collided with the car they were travelling in on State Highway 10 in Northland on April 30.

Ms Rakich's partner and her daughter, 5, both survived the crash.


Mr Springer was in New Zealand on holiday from San Francisco and needs to return to the United States for scheduled treatment on the tumour. He has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced today in the Kaikohe District Court.

A restorative justice meeting was held on Wednesday night between Mr Springer and members of Ms Rakich's family.

On the eve of the sentencing, her sister, Leash King, told the Weekend Herald she hoped Mr Springer would avoid a jail sentence. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of three months' jail and a fine of $4000.

"I've said to him I'm going to try and get him out of a jail sentence. I feel for him," Mrs King said.

"I'm going to object to three months in jail if he does get that, so that he can go home to his family.

"He's already been given a life sentence with a brain tumour and I think that's enough for anyone."

Mrs King said the toll the tragedy had taken on Mr Springer was clear at Wednesday's restorative justice meeting.

"He did apologise, he broke down a lot," she said.

"I'm not angry with him, I feel for him. Watching him cry, my partner and I both said to him, 'We forgive you, and now you've got to try and learn how to forgive yourself.'

"He's going to have to live with this for the rest of his life and I think everyone understands the weight of that."

Ms Rakich's partner did not attend the restorative justice meeting.

Mr Springer sat hunched and pale in the dock during his second appearance in Kaikohe District Court earlier this month.

His lawyer, Mike Dodds, successfully argued against the media being allowed to photograph his client in court, saying it would add to his personal stress and make him publicly vulnerable.

Shortly after the tragedy, Mrs King posted a heartfelt online tribute to her "baby sister".

"I'm sorry, babe, I didn't protect you enough. I will always love and miss you to the bitter end and I hope nana was there to walk you through the next step of your life."

Family and friends of Ms Pitman also paid tribute to a beautiful mother.

Son Trent wrote on Facebook: "I won't ever accept the fact that you're gone cause you've always been a part of me [wherever] I am. I love you more than love itself. Always."