Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Bubbly and popular teen killed in Kaimai Ranges crash

Jasmine Clothier was the kind of girl who wasn't afraid to express her emotions, giving a "cuddle and a kiss" to friends and relatives without a care.

The Matamata teenager's life was cut tragically short on Saturday afternoon when the car she was in collided head-on with another near the summit of the Kaimai Ranges.

Police say it appears the old model Mercedes Benz, in which she was the front seat passenger, was on the wrong side of the road when it hit the oncoming car at 4.08pm.

Jasmine's father Gavin Clothier of Putaruru was too distraught to speak to the Herald yesterday but his brother Steve Clothier described the 17-year-old Matamata College student as full of life.

"She was a bubbly, energetic young lady. She is just friends with everybody. She was the kind of young girl who would always come up and give you a cuddle and a kiss."

Mr Clothier said his niece would have turned 18 next month.

"She had a huge network of friends. The funeral will be rather large."

He said her family, which included mum Wendy Clothier in Matamata and older sister Crystal, were devastated. "The family is not coping well."

Waikato District road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace said it appeared the car was on the wrong side of State Highway 29 but it was too early to say why.

Jasmine and the driver of the Mercedes, a 17-year-old man, were heading east towards Tauranga and were near the Kaimais lookout on the Hamilton side when they collided with a west-bound Honda.

Firefighters rushed to cut Jasmine free from the wreck but she died at the scene.

"It's an absolute tragedy that a young person has lost their life and it was totally avoidable," Mrs Grace said.

The teenage driver was later discharged from Tauranga Hospital. The driver of the Honda, a man from Tauranga, was not injured.

It was too soon to say if speed was a factor but Mrs Grace said the conditions were wet and cold, and the Kaimais were a busy and sometimes difficult road to negotiate.

Yesterday tributes for Jasmine flowed on social media where the teenager had a number of profiles.

One from an Andrew on Twitter read: "Rest in peace Jasmine Clothier. You will be dearly missed. Fly high, love you!"

Jasmine was among Matamata College friends who lost 15-year-old peer Zak Lang in July 2012 when he was hit by a train in the Waikato town.

The fatality is the third on the Kaimais since May 29 when a three-car crash near the summit claimed the life of a child and later, a 55-year-old Mt Maunganui man.

- NZ Herald

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