Fatal crash a personal tragedy for rescuers

By Scott Yeoman, Tess Nichol

Anne Talijancich, 43, her daughter, 10, son, 2, and partner, 44, were in the vehicle when it crashed into a bridge at Te Kopuru. Photo / Supplied
Anne Talijancich, 43, her daughter, 10, son, 2, and partner, 44, were in the vehicle when it crashed into a bridge at Te Kopuru. Photo / Supplied

Two children injured in a crash in which their mother died remain in hospital.

The children, a boy, 2, and a 10-year-old girl, were flown to Starship in Auckland on Saturday afternoon after the crash on Pouto Rd, about 25km south of Dargaville.

The boy was in a stable condition and the girl was in a critical but stable condition, said an Auckland District Health Board spokeswoman.

The children's mother, Anne Talijancich, 43, was killed when the car she was in crashed into a bridge at Te Kopuru shortly before 4pm on Saturday.

Devastated volunteer firefighters who responded to the tragedy were undergoing counselling after discovering they were related to those in the car.

Talijancich, her daughter, son, and partner were in the vehicle when it crashed.

The family of Talijancich, who was a member of the Te Kopuru Volunteer Fire Brigade, last night expressed their grief to the Herald on Sunday.

Addressed to our Mum/Stepmum: "There are no words to express what we are feeling right now, our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered, Not only were you our mum, you were also one of our best friends."

The message, signed by Talijancich's step-children, said they would "look after Dad and of course each other".

The 10-year-old girl was flown to Starship immediately after the crash and the two-year-old boy left Whangarei Hospital late last night by helicopter after it was discovered he had a fractured skull.

Ms Talijancich's partner was discharged from Whangarei Hospital on Saturday and is understood to be with the children at Starship.

A post on the Te Kopuru Fire Brigade's Facebook page read: "Today we lost one of our own. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and brigade members."

The message was accompanied by a picture of the New Zealand flag at half-mast outside the rural station.

Whangarei and Kaipara fire commander Wipari Henwood said the Te Kopuru station was a family-run brigade.

"In small communities like Te Kopuru, when you have an event like this there's a high probability that you'll know somebody. And in this instance members responding were related."

Henwood said three or four of the responding firefighters were related to the people in the car.

"They're pretty distraught and devastated."

Henwood travelled from his base in Whangarei to support the crew and ensure counselling was available.

Conditions on the 100km/h stretch of road were good and Henwood did not know what caused the crash.

"It's fine, the road's dry," he said. "I believe there was only one vehicle involved and it's unfortunately clipped the bridge."

Speaking from the scene, Dargaville firefighter Jeffrey Palmer said the aftermath was not an easy thing to witness.

"All I can say is that a lot of firefighters are deeply touched personally by this person who has passed away. We'll have a debrief and make sure all the younger ones get looked after."

-Additional reporting by Matthew Theunissen and Simon Plumb

- Herald on Sunday

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