American driver veers over line and crashes on way to beach baptism

An American preacher has ended a mission to New Zealand in front of a community magistrate.

Scotty Devauchelle travelled to New Zealand from Las Vegas, where he is a minister for the Pentecostal His Highest Praise Ministries, to meet Kiwi church leaders and followers.

Eight days ago, the 58-year-old American was on his way to Maraetai, East Auckland, for a church picnic and beach baptism. He did not make it.

Counties Manukau police spokeswoman Kimberley Mathews said Devauchelle drifted across the centreline while driving a borrowed van, and crashed into an oncoming car.

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The driver of the oncoming vehicle sustained bruised ribs, and Devauchelle, his wife and two children travelling with them were not hurt.

Devauchelle had earlier posted on the inJesus website about his visit to New Zealand, writing: "I do a pretty good job at driving on the 'wrong' side of the road."

He was charged with dangerous driving.

A Manukau District Court staff member confirmed on Friday the charge was reduced to careless driving when Devauchelle appeared before community magistrate Phil Greenbank on Monday.

Devauchelle pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $500 in reparation for the emotional harm to the other driver.

Devauchelle left New Zealand for Hawaii on Tuesday and could not be contacted.

Scott Kake, whose father is a leader with the New Zealand His Highest Praise Ministry, told the Herald on Sunday his two children were in the van when Devauchelle crashed.

"I think he had veered over and went to correct himself but put himself right in the oncoming vehicle's path."

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Both vehicles were written off, Kake said.