An inquest is being held into the deaths of two Spanish tourists in a crash near Kawakawa almost a decade ago.

Joan Roma Serra and his partner Eva Fajula Rovira, both 34, were in a campervan that was hit head-on by a Linfox truck-and-trailer in Towai on December 22, 2009.

The pair were caught between a bank and the jack-knifing truck as it slid towards them at 90km/h, lifting the van and shunting it into a ditch.

The tourists, both 34, were killed instantly. Serra, a truck driver, and Rovira, an emergency nurse, had been due to fly home for Christmas.


A toddler in a ute behind the campervan was also badly hurt when the trailer clipped the ute.

The Coroner originally found the crash was due to the truck driver's error.

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Questions were raised about the truck's maintenance record, with another driver reportedly having steering issues with the truck three weeks before the crash.

But an inspection of the truck found no mechanical faults that could have contributed to the crash. It was concluded the truck driver had lost control and crossed the centre line.

The case has now been reopened so the truck driver, Ioane Etuale, can give evidence about possible mechanical faults that could not be substantiated in the first inquiry.

The Linfox truck jack-knifed on SH1 near Towai, slamming the campervan into a bank. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The Linfox truck jack-knifed on SH1 near Towai, slamming the campervan into a bank. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The South Auckland man did not attend the 2012 inquest as police were unable to find him.

Etuale broke down in tears today while reading his statement, telling the court he should give his life to "those innocent people".


He was previously been charged with causing the deaths of the two tourists but escaped conviction.

He pleaded not guilty to two charges of careless driving causing the deaths and was also charged with careless driving causing injury in relation to the 2-year-old boy in the ute behind.

The court heard while Etuale was not convicted on those charges he was found guilty of careless use of a vehicle - a truck - on February 28, 2012.