Grieving family and friends will today hold the first of five funerals for the teenage boys killed in a car crash on Saturday night, as the wider community continues to come to grips with the enormity of the tragedy.
Javarney Wayne Drummond (15), Andrew George Goodger (15), Niko William Hill (15), Joseff Alan James McCarthy (16) and Jack Graeme Wallace (16), all of Timaru, were killed when the Nissan Bluebird they were travelling in smashed into a concrete power pole at the intersection of Seadown and Meadows Rds, in Washdyke, cutting the car in half.
The 19-year-old driver, Tyreese Fleming, is still in hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Conscious after the crash, he asked the first person on the scene how he had survived. On Sunday, he posted a message on social media from hospital, apologising to the families of the boys who had died.
Over the past few days, the crash site has become a place for friends and family to gather, to place flowers and write messages to the boys.
Families have spoken about finding out their child had been killed, and how plans for the future have had to make way for funeral planning.
Community leaders and school principals have said the tragedy will leave a lasting impact on the community, and trauma specialists from the Ministry of Education have been sent to the schools connected to the boys to support both staff and pupils.
Police investigations are ongoing, and Aoraki Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin has said it could be months before a decision is made on whether charges would be laid.
Factors being investigated include speed, alcohol, failure to wear seatbelts, and overloading.
Police are waiting on reports from both Vehicle Testing New Zealand and serious crash investigators.
“We won’t be speaking to the driver until we have got a little bit more information -obviously the investigation is very early days at the moment, and it would be better to speak to him when we have as much information as possible.”
Friends of the victims have planned a memorial for them on Saturday night, encouraging people to come along in their cars and “tear up” the road, but to drive safely and wear seatbelts.
However, police, and at least one high school principal, have expressed concerns about the planned event, and have asked parents to discourage their children from attending, citing safety concerns.
– Reporting The New Zealand Herald and The Courier