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Tourist at wheel in crash was preparing to eat spaghetti

June 21, 2013 DESTINATION, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A German tourist crashed his car after being distracted as he prepared to eat spaghetti, a coroner has found.

A coroner in New Zealand has released his findings into the deaths of German tourist Onur Gulmez, 28, and French visitor Paul Joubert, 22.250x250

TVNZ News reported that the two tourists had travelled to New Zealand independently, met in Wellington and decided to tour together.

Approaching a right-hand bend near Nelson in the South Island, Onur’s car zig-zagged, heading to the left and then veering back to the right before colliding with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, witnesses said.

A police reconstruction of the crash suggested Onur had not been concentrating on his driving. Police found spaghetti and sauce on his body and on the steering wheel, but no evidence he had eaten any. It appeared he had just been preparing to eat the food.

A raised ridge of tar seal was discovered in the road 30 metres from where the crash happened. Piecing the evidence together, the coroner ruled that Onur’s vehicle hit this raised ridge while the driver was distracted as he prepared to eat spaghetti. Onur’s response had been to over-correct the steering, with fatal consequences.

“I believe the crash happened because Onur was distracted while preparing to eat spaghetti,” the coroner said.

In New Zealand, as in other countries, drivers are occasionally observed eating, or preparing to eat, at the wheel. A YouTube video exists of a woman driving in South Korea for a lengthy period while eating noodles with chopsticks and not touching the steering wheel at all.

In the Canadian city of Ottawa last year, police sighted a 58-year-old man driving while balancing a white china bowl on his lap. He was eating rotisserie chicken as he steered with his knees, grabbing the steering wheel only occasionally.

Police initially noticed that his car was speeding, weaving erratically and straying beyond its lane, following too closely and changing lanes without signalling. When police looked more closely, they observed the driver eating dinner.

The Ottawa driver, who was fined for his behaviour, was a local and familiar with the road. For a tourist in unfamiliar territory, eating and driving – or just preparing to eat – is even more dangerous.

Written by : Peter Needham

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