"The whole car load of boys were wasted"

By Matthew Theunissen of APNZ

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A coroner has been told that the occupants of a car that smashed into an 4WD at about 150km/h in Hawkes Bay in January, resulting in four deaths, were "wasted''.

Speed, a lack of seatbelts and alcohol were all factors in the deaths of Zyah Giaani Marsh, 13, Kennedy James Weir, 49, Raimon Taire Keefe, 16, and Watson Olilver Tipu, 31.

They died when their car, driven by Mr Tipu, hit a 4WD towing a trailer and boat on State Highway 2 north of Raupunga about 7.15pm. on January 25.

They were members of a shearing gang returning from a job.

Giving evidence to Hastings Coroner Chris Devonport, Cherie Ultima Robinson said she and the deceased went to an associate's house after they finished shearing about 11.30am and drank alcohol until about 6pm.

Ms Robinson said she left the address in her own car, while the others followed in another.

``The whole car load of boys were wasted. They had been drinking alcohol since 11am that morning up until the time they left Raupunga,'' she said.

``I was driving at 100km/h when Watson overtook me. I would say Watson was travelling at about 140km. Watson was going around a corner which was a right bend, he didn't quite make the corner because I saw him cross the centre line. As this was happening a truck with a boat on the back was coming towards us. Watson basically went head into the front of the truck and this happened on the truck's lane. Watson's car bounced off the truck and ended up just off the road in a little bush on the left hand side of the road.''

Crash investigators concluded the driver had not been applying the breaks at the time of the crash.

It was estimated the car was travelling about 150km/h immediately before the crash.

blood tests results showed that Mr Tipu had 213 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The legal blood alcohol limit for a New Zealand driver is 80mgr.

Coroner Davenport found all the deaths were preventable.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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