Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Zealand: Update--At Fault Motorist, 73, from Holland, Returns to Face the Music, Here...Here

In today's world, honor and nobility are very often elusive in our fast-pace world than mandates that almost everything is immediate and rushed.

Yet, according to The New Zealand Herald, Dutch tourist Koos Van Diest, 73, left his ailing wife in rural west Holland so he could admit to a January 7, 2014 head-on collision that he was responsible for causing. 

In what his defense counsel has described as an "honorable" expression of empathy, Koos and his wife were on a trip of a lifetime when he briefly drove on the wrong side of the road and collided with another vehicle near Whitianga.

Van Diest suffered relatively minor injuries but his wife Tonny, 72, had to be taken to Auckland City Hospital by helicopter. She had a broken wrist and sternum and cracked tailbone.

Three people in the car Van Diest crashed into also suffered injuries. As a result police charged the Dutchman with careless driving causing injury, but allowed him to go home with his wife. 

COMMENT: Mrs. Van Diest has only recently left a hospital after two months as a patient and had to be looked after by family and friends while Van Diest returned in New Zealand.

Some of his friends told Van Diest not to return, but he thought that that wouldn't be right, according to family friend, Ingrid Otene, who told APNZ.

"A lot of people were saying, 'you don't have to go back, they'll never find you'. But he said that for his own peace of mind and his integrity, he would not be able to face himself in the mirror [if he didn't return]."

Van Diest arrived in New Zealand last week and on Friday went to the Manukau District Court, where he was convicted on each charge, disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay each of the three occupants in the car $500 in reparation.

Mr. Van Diest is now on his way back home.

Van Diest's attorney, Kahu Barron-Afeaki, SC, said although the sentence might appear light, it took into account all of the circumstances, including that Van Diest's wife was the most seriously injured.

"He'll have to live with that for the rest of his life. For me this is a story of an honorable man rising up after a tragedy and doing the right thing."

We wish the Van Diests well and urge them to enjoy life to its fullest, knowing that honorable people these days are very hard to find.