This photo was taken by one of the first on the scene. Photo / Supplied 021020crash1.JPG
The scene of the carnage. Photo / Supplied 021020crash1.JPG
Survivors emerge from the scene. Photo / File A_040919bf4.JPG
Five people died in this crash. Photo / File A_040919bf1.JPG
Junwei Zhang when he appeared in court in July. Photo / File A_030720aw01.JPG
A Chinese bank manager had never spent a day apart from his 5-year-old daughter. Now he is faced with not seeing her, his wife nor his father for the rest of his life.
They were three of five people killed when a Chinese tour bus carrying 27 people lost control near Rotorua on September 4 last year.
The five were thrown from the rear window of the bus and died when the vehicle rolled on their bodies on a wet and windy day on State Highway 5 at Ngatira, 20km northwest of Rotorua.
Eight others suffered moderate to severe injuries.
Harrowing details about the impacts of the crash suffered by the victims were revealed for the first time today
in the Rotorua District Court during the sentencing of the bus driver, Junwei Zhang.
Zhang had previously pleaded guilty to five charges of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death and eight charges of careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury.
Judge Maree Mackenzie sentenced him to four and a half months' home detention, disqualified him from driving for 18 months and ordered that he pay reparation of $13,000.
Hao Wang's victim impact statement was read to the court by Crown Solicitor Amanda Gordon. It described his devastation at losing his daughter Yaocen Wang, 5, wife Feng Luo and father Lianfang Wang.
He described his family as "perfect" and his wife as his soul mate who he'd been with since high school.
He described the best part of his day as hugging his daughter after work.
"My daughter is a treasure to me. We looked alike. We had not been separated from her since birth, not even for a day."
He said his daughter was treated like a princess by their family.
"She was like the continuation of my life. I was motivated to work hard because of her ... She was my entire world."
Other victim impact statements pleaded with Judge Mackenzie for Zhang to be "severely punished" for the "irreversible damage" he had caused.
Three videos were played to the court from visibly upset victims who were severely injured in the crash. Their messages to the court were translated into English by an interpreter.
Several said they were left physically and mentally traumatised by what happened, with many now fearful of going on public transport. One said she was now afraid of rainy days.
Another said: "I never expected my holiday in New Zealand to be like this", while others talked about not wanting to go outside because they only cried when people asked them about the crash.
Another victim said they thought about suicide and they lived in constant "pain and sorrow".
Zhang, a husband and father of a 9-year-old son, was described in court as a person of good character who was extremely remorseful.
His lawyer, Laura Owen, presented 32 references of support from members of the Chinese community, many of whom were from the tourism and hospitality sectors. They said he was otherwise a person who was safety-conscious.
Zhang had lived and worked in New Zealand for five years and now faced deportation because he was on a temporary visa.
Despite Owen and the pre-sentence report suggesting Zhang be sentenced to community detention and community work, Judge Mackenzie said she wanted to send a strong message that professional drivers were expected to take extra care.
She said home detention was the right sentence.
She said Zhang's level of carelessness was high given the weather conditions that day.
She said the crash had a "profound and deeply traumatic effect" on the victims and the victim impact statements made for "harrowing reading".
"This was not a momentary lapse. The conditions that day should have put you on heightened awareness …You were entrusted to drive people unfamiliar with New Zealand safely to their destination."
The reparation is to be paid at a rate of $70 a week starting on December 22. Each of the 13 victims or family members of victims are to receive $1000 each.
Those killed in the crash were Shifen Wei, Tiancai Lyu, Feng Luo, Lianfang Wang and Yaocen Wang.
Junyin Lei suffered bruising to his hand and a concussion; Xiaojun Li suffered multiple broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and numerous fractures within the pelvic area; Hongbing Zhang suffered a lower spine fracture; Aibi Quan suffered two broken ribs, a fractured sternum and two clavicle fractures; Yuxian Li suffered a neck fracture; Xiaorong Yan suffered a fractured rib; Ying Guo suffered a fractured scapular and a broken rib; and Hao Wang suffered undisclosed injuries.