Teen passenger fatally impaled on steel rod

By Abby Gillies

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Family and friends of David Sionepulu, fatally impaled by a steel rod in Auckland overnight, have paid tribute to the teenager "taken away from us so soon".

The 19-year-old was in the front seat of a car when the driver lost control on Ngapipi Rd in Orakei at 2.20am

The car travelled over a side bank, slammed into the fence, flattened steel rods, tore through wire mesh and a hedge and narrowly missed a nearby property, Auckland City District Road Policing Manager Inspector Gavin Macdonald said.

Mr Sionepulu suffered horrific injuries.

"Somehow one of the palings from the fence has gone through the chest of the deceased and he's died at the scene."

The driver fled the scene and has not been identified or located by police.

Those close to David Sionepulu, who lived in Panmure and worked at KFC, have posted online tributes to him.

"R.I.P my lil brother DavidLatanoa Sionepulu..Love you always, you will forever be in my heart right..," Johnny N Melzie Savage-Oleiki wrote.

"You're bloody too young to be taken away from us so soon," said Lupe Vakalahi.

Staff at KFC Glen Innes, where Mr Sionepulu had worked for two-and-a-half-years, were shocked by news of his death.

"He was a very reliable, committed and hard working team member and he will be missed," KFC General Manager Brent Kitto said.

Counselling services have been offered to staff, he said.

Mr Sionepulu was the owner of the car.

It was the second crash in the same area overnight.

Two middle-aged men were in a critical condition in Auckland Hospital after a crash on Tamaki Drive at 12.30am in which a car hit trees at Okahu Bay.

The driver was a Glen Innes resident and the other man was a front-seat passenger.

It was likely speed and alcohol were involved in both crashes, which were "entirely preventable", said Auckland City District Road Policing Manager Inspector Gavin Macdonald.

"I think it's a tragedy. We're having these crashes and they're preventable and now we've got another family that's torn to pieces because we've got another dead person," he told APNZ.

"It's frustrating for police and the public that some drivers continue to ignore the proliferation of messages and warnings about the dangers of driving too quickly and/or drinking and driving. As long as people continue to do this, families will be torn apart by road fatalities and long-term injuries," he said.

Ngapipi Rd and Tamaki Dr were reopened about 6.30am.

Police urged the driver of the car involved in the fatal crash to contact police immediately.

The fatal crash came a day after one in Hamilton in which a 17-year-old driver was killed when he was thrown from the stolen car he was driving.

A 14-year-old who was "partially restrained" in the front passenger seat, suffered critical leg injuries and a 15-year-old girl, who was in the rear and wearing a seatbelt, walked away from the crash.

- APNZ

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