Police say a car journey by a group of teenagers which ended in disaster was "doomed from the start".
Police say a serious car crash on Friday night that took place on a dark country highway, south of Wellsford, highlights the dangerous cocktail of youth, alcohol, and poor decision making.
After drinking in a local reserve off State Highway 16, a group of students aged between 15 to 17 years packed into a 1997 Toyota Corolla at about 11.00pm to head home.
Seven teenagers got into the car designed for only five people; two had to sit in the boot of the hatchback vehicle.
The 17-year-old driver, who had no licence, soon lost control on a moderate bend and crossed the centre line before crashing off the road, into a ditch, rolling the vehicle onto its roof.
The two teenagers who were sitting in the boot were both thrown from the car and suffered life threatening injuries. They had to be flown out by rescue helicopters to hospital and remain in critical condition.
Three other occupants suffered broken bones during the crash.
Inspector Mark Fergus, Waitematä Road Policing Manager, said the journey was doomed from the start.
"A young, unlicensed driver, in charge of a severely overloaded vehicle, on a dark country highway was never going to end well," Inspector Fergus said.
"Every teenager that got into that car made their own decision. Any one of them could have stopped the chain of events that lead to their friends being left with life-changing injuries, by deciding to not get in the car and insisting that they contact someone to come and get them.
"Any car ride where two passengers have to ride unrestrained in the boot should set off alarm bells. Add to that an unlicensed driver late at night, and any parent who received a call from their son or daughter would have come and taken them safely home. Sure, there might have been stern words in the morning, but that is far more preferable than the grief that such a crash has caused," he said.
The Waitematä Serious Crash unit is investigating the incident.
It is too early to say whether charges will be laid, however alcohol is suspected as one of the factors involved.