A heartbroken family are mourning the loss of 5-year-old Ruby Jay Marris after a car crash involving a foreign driver in Otago.

The Marris family, of Oamaru, were travelling north in a station wagon on State Highway 1 near Moeraki on Saturday when a ute driven by a Chinese tourist was in a collision with them.

Ruby's parents Tristan and Kimberley and sisters Sophie and Georgia are being treated in Dunedin Hospital. Ruby died at the scene.

A family member said the family were heartbroken and hoping for a change to laws around foreign drivers.


An online petition seeking a law change requiring all foreign drivers to sit a test before renting a vehicle received a flurry of signatures from the North Otago community after the crash on Saturday, one from Ruby's uncle, Chris Cant.

The Oamaru man wrote: "My wee 5-year-old niece died in her mother's arms last Saturday. The mother, my sister, and the rest of their family continue to have ongoing treatment in Dunedin hospital [ ... ]

"I never wish anyone to ever experience the senseless pain and ongoing suffering I have felt and seen in the last 24 hours."

Ruby attended Ardgowan School, whose principal Julie French said the school had been working to support students, staff and family.

The tourist charged over the accident was granted name suppression in the Dunedin District Court yesterday because of concerns for his safety.

He was charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death and four counts of dangerous driving causing injury. He entered no plea to any of the charges and was remanded on bail to an Auckland address. He was ordered to surrender his passport and driver's licence.

The man, who showed no emotion during the hearing, left covering his face with documents.

He was one of five tourists who appeared in courts around Otago yesterday on driving charges.


In Queenstown, two Chinese men and an Indian man were convicted of driving dangerously, fined and banned from driving on New Zealand roads. Another Chinese tourist admitted to careless driving causing injury to three other tourists and was remanded on bail to reappear in Queenstown for sentencing on March 9.

- NZME., Oamaru Mail, Otago Daily Times