A 20-year-old man who died in a fiery road accident had managed to turn his life around and become a caring young father, a youth worker says.

Trent Whitburn, who was living in Levin with his partner and toddler, was one of two people in a Nissan car destroyed in a collision with two trucks in Manawatu on Wednesday morning.

The second person in the car, which police believe to be a 51-year-old woman, is understood to be Mr Whitburn's mother.

Terry Poko, who runs the Kapiti youth programme Youth Quest, said he first met Mr Whitburn as a troubled 16-year-old.


He had just lost his father and had run in to a bit of trouble. "Mum wanted to put him back on the right path and he came through our programme and graduated," Mr Poko said.

Since then, Mr Whitburn - who was living in Levin with his young family - had turned his life around.

"He finished a farming course at Taratahi ... had a relationship with a girl and then he had a baby boy."

"He was in a very good space at that stage," Mr Poko said.

Hearing about the accident had come as a shock to all the staff at Youth Quest.

"It is sad ... especially knowing that he's got a young family and he was doing really well and starting to make something good out of his young life."

Mr Whitburn and his mother also shared a special bond, Mr Poko said.

"Trent didn't have a father [after he died] so mum sort of carried the batten."

A police spokeswoman confirmed the three vehicles involved in the State Highway 1 crash near Sanson were behind a much larger truck transporting a huge boat.

Because of the wide load, the truck with the boat had been travelling at a very low speed, the spokeswoman said.

"It had pilot vehicles front and back and lights to notify people of the heavy load.

"That wasn't involved in the crash itself. It was in the area itself at the time, in close vicinity."

Police and local traffic authorities were aware the boat was being transported on the highway at the time, the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman said this morning the post-mortem on the crash victims had been completed.

Formal identification by police was still ongoing, she said.


Online tributes to Mr Whitburn:


Rip my old kenakena homie trent whitburn who died in a car crash ... rest eazy bruva.

* R.i.p Trent Whitburn

* RIP Trent Whitburn ... Another very sad loss of another young person. Our thoughts are very much with Trents's family during this shocking time.

* It is truly a sad day when one of our YQ (Youth Quest) young men are gone before their time. Rest in peace Trent Whitburn. I remember you were up front, straight up and spoke your mind, not always saying things we want to hear, but, it was who you were. You loved your family and I bet you were the best dad to your son and best man to your partner. Arohanui to all of Trents family and friends.

* RIP you beautiful people. Trent Whitburn Tc you might not have been my blood but you didn't need to be, I loved you as a cousin! A best friend! I'm so proud of how far you were getting in life! Ill miss you forever! Margret, you were an amazing auntie I always laughed when you were around you always had this light to you! Made rooms glow! You were warm and kind hearted!