The scene of the crash at the corner of Lord Rutherford Rd and SH6 in Brightwater in January. Photo: Supplied.

Brightwater crash driver ‘thought he had time’


A man has admitted using a vehicle carelessly causing the death of 78-year-old Wakefield man Kevin John Edwards in a crash in Brightwater earlier this year.

Kevin spent nine days in a critical condition before he died from his injuries at Christchurch Hospital on February 3.

Reinald Bongnaim pleaded guilty to two charges of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing injury and one of causing death in the Nelson District Court on Monday.

The 35-year-old Vanuatu national, is in New Zealand on a seasonal employment visa and was granted a full Vanuatuan licence four months before arriving in New Zealand.

He admitted not having much driving experience here.

On January 25, Bongnaim set out in a Toyota Avensis for a day out at Nelson Lakes alongside his female passenger.

When he came to the intersection of Lord Rutherford Rd and SH6 at 10.25am, a road he had not travelled before, he pulled out into the path of an oncoming Toyota Corolla.

That car was being driven by Kevin’s wife, with his eight-year-old granddaughter in the front passenger seat and he seated directly behind his wife.

The police summary of facts told how the Corolla was travelling at an estimated speed of 100kph.

Kevin’s wife tried to brake but had nowhere to go.

The car collided with the passenger door of Bongnaim’s vehicle and witnesses recounted how both vehicles appeared to lift off the ground about one foot upon the heavy impact.

Members of the public provided first aid until emergency services arrived on the scene.

Kevin was conscious but dazed.

Upon arrival at Nelson Hospital, he was triaged as being in a critical condition with severe bone fractures and internal bleeding.

He was transferred to Christchurch Intensive Care Unit where he later died.

His wife suffered severe bruising to her torso, legs and face, as well as stiffness and whiplash.

Their granddaughter had heavy bruising and abrasions to her collarbone, chest and hips.

Bongnaim was not injured and his passenger suffered minor injuries.

When spoken to by police, Bongnaim was very emotional and apologetic.

He told them he had looked right and saw the car coming but thought he had enough time.

He looked left then pulled out.

Judge Garry Barkle convicted Bongnaim of all three charges. He will be sentenced on July 21.