Family's heartbreak: Last of three sons killed

By Matt Loh Ho Sang, Viv Logie

Drink-driver claimed one, Pike River another and now third in a cop chase

The car crashed into a bedroom vacated just hours before. Photo / Greymouth Star
The car crashed into a bedroom vacated just hours before. Photo / Greymouth Star

A young man killed when a speeding car smashed into a house was the last of three brothers.

Daniel Herk (left) and Judd Hall.
Daniel Herk (left) and Judd Hall.

Judd Hall, 26, died on Friday night after police briefly pursued a station wagon in Greymouth.

He was a passenger in the back seat. The driver and another passenger were injured.

Police say the car was travelling up to 140km/h in a 50km/h zone. Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

The front of the house imploded and the roof was destabilised.

Cayden Dash had moved out of the High St house just seven hours before the accident. "That was where my bed would have been," he said.

At home last night, Judd's mother, Joe Hall, told the Herald on Sunday that he was the third son she and partner Rick Durbridge had lost.

"Jessop was killed by a drunk driver when he was 9, and Dan died in the Pike River mine," she said.

After the death of Daniel Herk in the coalmine tragedy, the three boys' father, mine worker Rick "Rowdy" Durbridge, campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness for the 29 victims. He helped build a memorial shelter at the mine entrance, and rode a Triumph in the Burt Munro Challenge last summer to raise funds.

Joe Hall said Judd was in his pyjamas when his friends turned up outside the house and persuaded him to come out.

"There's been comments about him being out partying but that is not the case at all," she said.

"He was ready for bed and had just gone down the shop for some Powerade and Skittles when his mates turned up at 10.45pm and invited him to a party in Kumara. It was just bad luck that he went."

Joe Hall said she had "serious concerns" about the police pursuit.

"When the police told me about the crash they didn't even mention a pursuit. They said there was crash after they had been racing and then I read in the paper about a pursuit which, like always, they say was called off before the crash."

West Coast police area commander John Canning said it was a 10-second pursuit. The patrol car did not have its siren on, but its lights were flashing.

"It's not rocket science," he said. "It's a tragic case where one man is dead simply because they thought better, and weren't prepared to stop, and made a very poor decision."

Judd Hall's many mates remembered a larger-than-life character and a "Runanga legend".

Garick McDonald described him as a "one of a kind bro". "He got qualified, got his driver's licence and was going places. He was the happiest, friendliest and funniest dude we knew. He was the life of the party - Runanga isn't going to be the same without him."

Hall was a friend of Billy T Award-nominated comedian Justin "Gish" Hansen.

The entertainer said on Facebook he would miss "having a good yarn and laugh" with Hall, who offered "nothing but good vibes".

Joe Hall said Judd had made her proud by almost completing a diploma in information technology.

- Additional reporting John Weekes and Nicholas McBride

- Herald on Sunday

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