Teen now in battle for his life

As two families prepare to farewell their teenage sons over the next two days, Ben Morrison is fighting for his life in Wellington Hospital.
The 18-year-old, one of nine people involved in a fatal collision between a van and a car on a bridge near Taradale early on Saturday morning, had been listed as "serious" yesterday. But this morning his condition was upgraded to "critical".
Ben was travelling in the van with six others. Robert Waikari and Max Harman, both 17, died after being thrown from the van and falling 15 metres into the shallow Tutaekuri River. Jordyn Beach miraculously survived the fall with moderate injuries.
The female driver and one other passenger of the van have since been discharged from Hawke's Bay Hospital, as have the two occupants of the car.
Another teen, the boyfriend of the driver, was still in hospital in a stable condition.
About 80 pupils at Havelock North High, where Robert was a pupil, needed counselling yesterday.
Principal Bill Adams said the arrangements made to deal with grieving pupils had been successful.
"The atmosphere around the school today is very quiet," he said.
Of the 80 pupils who had reported to staff in the counselling centre "most were back in class by lunchtime".
"Some have had a good cry and now realise life has to go on," Mr Adams said. "That is certainly what Robert would have wanted."
The school had been "inundated" with offers of help from Victim Support, the DHB, the Ministry of Education and a range of other schools and individuals.
"Their support for the school has been brilliant," Mr Adams said. "Teaching staff have done a great job, providing help for pupils."
It is believed that the girl who was driving met police yesterday afternoon.
Police have said she had been drinking alcohol before the crash, and described the accident as a "lethal combination" of youth, alcohol and driving.
But they said a decision on what charges the driver would face would not be made for some time.
Her grandmother said, "I am sort of worried about the immediate future for her.
"You think you can handle a lot of stuff but sometimes you can't."
Robert Waikari's funeral will be held at the Hawke's Bay Racing Centre in Hastings tomorrow.
Max Harman will be farewelled at the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Service Hangar on Thursday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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