Woman says she's not to blame for aunt's death in crash

Waitara woman Kura Wijnschenk is speaking out against the serious careless driving charges she faces over the fatal car crash that claimed the life of her beloved aunt.

"How many other whanau have been through this? It is wrong and it is unfair and it needs to be looked at," Kura Wijnschenk told Three's The Hui.

It was meant to be a road trip to remember, but a much-anticipated holiday last year turned into a tragedy that Kura will never forget.

"We were having a good time, it was an adventure. We had three or four days of greatness down there that I will cherish forever and ever," says Kura.

Kura Wijnschenk.
Kura Wijnschenk. Photo credit: The Hui

Forty-three-year-old Kura Wijnschenk from Waitara, in Taranaki is charged with careless driving causing the death of her aunt, 53-year-old mother of two Cherie Bidois, in May 2017.

"I have to speak on behalf of my aunty, to tell a story of what actually happened. If we both died in that accident no one would have known the difference," Wijnschenk adds.

Kura denies she's at fault and says she and her whanau have serious concerns about the police investigation into the fatal crash. She is waiting to stand trial for the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of three months in jail.

"I really felt that the case would be withdrawn or pulled out, or taken off the table by now. I don't understand that," Kura says.

The police serious crash unit concluded that Kura was at fault when her Toyota campervan collided with a station wagon near Clinton in south Otago. Police pointed to driver fatigue as the main cause of the crash.

Cherie Bidois.
Cherie Bidois. Photo credit: The Hui

Kura disputes the police version of events and says she did not cause the fatal crash. She has obtained her own expert report which says she was not to blame.

"I read it and I think wow, there's something not right here - how can the prosecution go ahead? But they are," Kura says. "It's been one of the hardest journeys ever had to experience, and still living. Emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, in all sorts. It's pulled me in so many directions and tipped me over more than once."

She now has post-traumatic stress disorder and in March this year, suffered a heart attack.

Kura feels as if she is living a life sentence and is desperate to clear her name once and for all.

But she will have to wait indefinitely, since her trial which was to have been held in Invercargill in July has been adjourned. Police have requested a third report into the car crash.

The Hui

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