One of the victims of a horror triple fatal crash was a beautiful young woman about to celebrate her 27th birthday.
Amy Katu, 26, was travelling with two young men in a Mazda when it collided with a truck on a rural road in the King Country this afternoon.
The crash happened shortly before 1pm on Oparure Road, south of Boddies Road in Te Kuiti.
Ms Katu's mother, Michelle Steele, told the Herald last night she was in disbelief that her daughter was gone.
"I am just horrified, I just can't believe it has happened. She was meant to be turning 27 on the 20th of January."
She said she did not know who the two men were her daughter was travelling with.
"It was a horrific crash wasn't it?"
"I have just been told that there were three occupants of the car and my daughter was one of them. It was my daughter and two guys, but I don't know who they are."
Mrs Steele said she was preparing to meet with her daughter's paternal side of the family as they began to grieve.
Waikato police highway patrol Senior Sergeant Stephen Ambler said the truck was turning right, across the lane, into the driveway of the McDonald's Lime Quarry when the car collided with it.
Fire, ambulance and police attended the crash, but the three occupants of the vehicle all died at the scene.
Victim may not have been wearing seatbelt
One of the young victims of the horror crash may not have been wearing a seatbelt, police say.
Police had confirmed two of the victims - the male driver and female passenger - had been wearing seatbelts, Senior Sergeant Stephen Ambler, said.
However, police were yet to confirm the male passenger was wearing a seatbelt.
"The male passenger who was sitting in the front may not have been wearing a seatbelt," Mr Ambler said.
"But we are still in the early stage of the investigation."
There was no evidence at this stage the car had been speeding or had lost control, Mr Ambler said.
"There was nothing that could be done"
Te Kuiti Volunteer Fire Brigade Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Guy Whitaker, said the crash was one of the worst he had ever attended.
"It was not good. It was evident when we arrived that there was nothing we could do. We arrived at the same time at St John and they were able to make the call very quickly that there was nothing that could be done."
He said the car was extensively damaged.
"It was one of the worst [crashes he had ever attended]. Unfortunately three peoples' lives were lost which is very unfortunate and devastating for their families."
A fire appliance and undertaker came to take the bodies away later in the afternoon.
A local kaumatua also came to bless the accident site.
Truck driver "devastated"
Senior Sergeant Ambler confirmed all three who died were in their twenties; one man and woman were local, while another man came from the nearby town of Otorohanga.
The truck driver was uninjured.
The company he worked for, PGF Transport Ltd, refused to comment on the accident, but a woman at the company said "it's terrible for all those involved".
A post on the Waikato Road Policing Team Facebook page said the driver of the truck was "devastated".
The road was closed for most of the afternoon and evening as the Police Serious Crash Unit and the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit examined the scene.
Police were also working to advise families of the deaths and formally identify the victims.
While the cause of the accident wouldn't be confirmed until the investigations have been completed police took the opportunity to remind drivers of how important it was to keep an eye out for hazards and to drive safe.
District road policing manger, Inspector Freda Grace extended her sympathies to all those involved, while urging caution.
"On behalf of NZ Police I would like to extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased, and while we cannot confirm the cause of this tragedy we urge all drivers to be fully attentive and vigilant on our roads and if turning, passing or pulling out, look, look and look again."