Man sentenced over schoolgirl’s death

Police were among the emergency services called to Pigeon Mountain Primary School on March 23 when Joanna Kong was struck by a vehicle in the car park. Times photo Chris Harrowell

A man has been sentenced for his role in the tragic death of a girl who died after being struck by a vehicle in an east Auckland school car park.

Five-year-old Joanna Kong was critically injured when she was hit by a vehicle outside Pigeon Mountain Primary School in Bucklands Beach on March 23.

Cheng Chuang, 77, who was behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz sedan at the time, was sentenced on a charge of careless driving causing death when he appeared in front of Judge Richard Earwaker in the Manukau District Court today.

The judge sentenced Chuang to 120 hours’ community service, ordered him to make a reparation payment to Joanna’s family of $30,827.50, and disqualified him from holding a driver’s licence for 12 months from today.

Emergency services were called to the school in Wells Road at about 8.40am on March 23 after being notified of a serious crash involving a vehicle and pedestrian.

Joanna, who lived in Bucklands Beach, was taken to Starship Hospital in a critical condition but died there with family by her side on March 28.

Counties Manukau Police’s serious crash investigation unit was notified of the incident and examined the scene shortly after it happened.

Police officers were at the school when the Times visited the scene on March 23.

Yellow cordon tape had been placed around a car park at the front of the school and access to the entrance was blocked off.

Investigators were examining a silver Mercedes-Benz sedan parked on the grass near a tree and adjacent to the car park.

On March 24 police publicly revealed that a 77-year-old man had been forbidden to drive following the crash.

On April 29 police charged Chuang with careless driving causing death.

He pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared in the Manukau District Court on May 28.

Pigeon Mountain Primary School principal Ian Dickinson and the school board’s presiding member Mark Eades told the Times: “The thoughts of our school and community are, and always will be, with Joanna and her family.”