Q'town runaway US driver charged by police

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 27, 2023

A charge has been laid against the American driver accused of causing a head-on collision that left another driver with a spinal fracture in January.

Otago Lakes Central area commander Paula Enoka says the charge was laid over the weekend.

Otago Lakes Central area commander Paula Enoka says the charge was filed over the weekend with a court summons.

The matter is due to be called in Queenstown District Court on Monday 13 March.

“If the defendant does not appear then a warrant will be issued and an alert placed on their name,” Inspector Enoka says.

The driver linked to the crash, a 73-year-old retired doctor living in California named as Dr Raman Sidhar in the official accident report, has been charged with dangerous driving causing injury.

The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $20,000. The penalty also includes being disqualified from driving on New Zealand roads for at least one year.

New Zealand traffic lawyer Rupert Ward told Crux on Friday (February 14) in cases like these the outcome often also involves some form of reparation for the other parties involved on the grounds of emotional harm.

Mr Ward said it seemed “a bit odd” no charge had been laid in the month-old case, although he did not know the specifics of it.

Photographs of the vehicles on on Frankton Road following the 5am smash on Friday, January 27

Today, Inspector Enoka did not provide a reason for the delay, with the accident occurring on Friday, January 27. However, she says charges could not have been laid at the scene, as medical records needed to be viewed.

The other driver involved, local chef Sara Duan, was taken to hospital after the accident, where she was diagnosed with a spinal fracture and discharged before 5pm. She has not yet returned to work.

Inspector Enoka did confirm Dr Sidhar was not driving under the influence of alcohol as both drivers had their blood alcohol levels tested at the time of the crash, returning negative results.

Dr Sidhar, has been approached by Crux for comment, and a reply came via his lawyer, Shivani Sidhar, who contacted Crux to say she is representing him. 

As previously reported, Dr Sidhar left New Zealand immediately after the accident, departing from Auckland hours after the crash, cutting his planned holiday short by three days.

He was driving an Avis rental car, which was written off in the two-way smash. Avis said via a media statement last week that the actions of Mr Sidhar following the accident were "extremely disappointing". 

Read our previous coverage, beginning February 7:

MP backs police in wrong-way crash

Wealthy US doctor: 'no comment' on fleeing NZ after Qtown crash

Police powerless to stop fleeing overseas crash driver

Editorial: When world's collide - the nightmare treatment of a Queenstown crash victim.

Police withhold details on mystery Q'town tourist crash

Overseas tourist flees country after Queenstown wrong-way smash 

Support Crux Support Crux