Lack of evidence to support charges after deadly crash

By Doug Laing

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An RNZAF NH90 helicopter was brought in to lift a vehicle out of the Mohaka River near Raupunga, Northern Hawke's Bay, after it plunged off the State Highway 2 Mohaka Viaduct underpass, killing three men, five months ago. A fourth man survived.
An RNZAF NH90 helicopter was brought in to lift a vehicle out of the Mohaka River near Raupunga, Northern Hawke's Bay, after it plunged off the State Highway 2 Mohaka Viaduct underpass, killing three men, five months ago. A fourth man survived.

Police have decided against laying any charges in relation to a crash which killed three Wairoa Mongrel Mob members when they were on their way to a gang reunion south of Hastings five months ago.

Ronald Rigby Terry Stone and Nathan Isaac died on the Saturday afternoon of November 7 when the car they were in plunged about 100 metres off the State Highway 2 Mohaka Viaduct underpass into the river below, just south of Raupunga. One man survived.

In a prepared statement yesterday, police said it was established a second vehicle was involved, but extensive investigations found no evidence to support any charges being laid against its driver.

The investigation included forensic tests and crash analysis, and the statement said an independent review was sought from a specialist crash investigator who agreed with the police view.

The statement said police could not provide any more detail about the investigation as the matter had now been referred to the coroner.

Amid fears of possible links to mob and Black Power rivalry, the investigation included examining the second vehicle, which left the scene.

It was found several days later in the Raupunga area, after discussions which involved family of those in the second vehicle, lawyers, and other gang leaders.

Police also spoke with those believed to have been in the second car.

They are understood to have later discussed progress with the bereaved families, and met again with families yesterday to discuss the outcome.

Police later also met with community leaders, including deputy mayor Denise Eaglesome-Karekare.

The crash sparked fears of retribution, before police had established what happened, but gang relationships specialist and Black Power member Denis O'Reilly, of Napier, said that, since the initial issues, police had been sensitive and "very thoughtful in looking for a later solution".

Also, "good leaders" of those linked to the families had "worked their way through it".

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said from Auckland last night he was impressed with both the police and the leaders of both gang groups, who had adopted a "cool-headed" approach, and who he believes want a positive future in the town for their people and their families.

"Perhaps this will end the rumour and the speculation," Mr Little said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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