Update: Police release names of family in crash

Police have released the names of the family of five who found dead this afternoon.

The family were believed to have died as a result of a crash near Whakamaru.

The driver of the vehicle was 23-year-old Lisa Crowley. Her partner, Richard Melling, aged 37 was the front seat passenger. In the rear of the vehicle were 11-year-old Jordan Melling, two-year-old Brody Crowley and a three-week old boy, who police believe was yet to be named. The baby was in a baby capsule.

Police said they were a "blended family" with Lisa the mother of the youngest two children and Richard the father of Jordan.

Police know that they were seen at their home in Whakamaru by family and friends at 8pm on Sunday night. Their vehicle appears to have been heading towards Whakamaru suggesting that at some stage they had left the settlement to an unknown destination and were then returning.

It is not clear at this stage when the crash happened and police would like to hear from anyone who knows of their movements between Sunday night and today.

Police also want information from anyone who saw their vehicle a green Honda Integra in or around the area since Sunday.

The names of the two men killed in today's crash on SH1 are unlikely to be released today as Police need to make overseas enquiries.

Anyone with information about either of these crashes are asked to contact Taupo Police on 07 378 6060.



The lives of four adults and three children were claimed in two crashes near Tokoroa.


The first crash happened at 1.05pm when a car travelling south towards Taupo collided head-on with a truck travelling in the opposite direction. Both occupants of the car, two Indian men visiting New Zealand, died at the scene.

The male truck driver, and a female passenger, both from Kaitaia, were treated for minor injuries at Tokoroa Hospital.

SH1 has now re-opened.


About 1.40pm contractors assessing a forest area on SH32 near Whakamaru found a car which appears to have left the road and struck a tree. Inside the car were a family believed to be a 37-year-old man, a 23-year-old woman and three boys aged 11, 2, and 3 weeks from Whakamaru.


This vehicle had travelled some metres from the road and could not be seen from the road. Police are now working to trace the movements of the occupants to establish when this crash occurred. The family were last seen about 8pm on Sunday night in Whakamaru.

SH32 is currently closed for a short time to enable recovery of the vehicle.


Area Commander for Taupo, Inspector Steve Bullock said: "This is an absolute tragedy; a Christmas in ruins for a number of families and friends. Our hearts go out to them.


"It is a timely reminder of just how easily lives can be changed in an instance.

"I would ask that everyone please reflect on what has happened to day and do everything possible to ensure that we do not see more lives lost on our roads over the holidays.

"We don't yet know what caused these particular crashes but we do know that speed, alcohol, fatigue, inattention and a lack of restraints are major factors in deaths on our roads. Please drive to the conditions and to your ability at all times."

No further information on those killed today will be released until all next of kin have been notified.

Anyone with information about either of these crashes are asked to contact Taupo Police on 07 378 6060.










Five people including two adults and three children have been found dead in a car near Whakamaru by contractors working in the area.

The crash followed a double fatality crash early this afternoon on State Highway 1. It is not clear when the Whakamaru crash may have occurred but police estimate it was longer than 24 hours ago.

The two crashes occurred about 30km apart, but appear to be unrelated at this stage, police say.

Sergeant Terry Garnett from Tokoroa police said workers were about to cut back trees on State Highway 32 when they found the car.

Mr Garnett said the car was found wrapped around a tree off a bank off Whakamaru Rd on a slight bend, near the small settlement of Kinleith.

The car was found just before 2pm today with five bodies inside.

Bay of Plenty police communications manager Kim Perks said no one had seen the incident.

"No one witnessed it. It doesn't appear to have just happened but as to how long it's (the car) been there, we don't know," she said.

Just after 1pm, a car and truck crashed about 20km south of Tokoroa on State Highway 1 killing two people.

The road is closed and is expected to remain so for several hours.

Serious crash investigators are at the scene.

The road is closed at Tar Hill, 4km south of Tokoroa near the Kinleith turnoff.

Traffic going north from Taupo will be diverted at SH30 towards Whakamaru, north to Tokoroa. Traffic going north to Rotorua can turn right onto SH30.

Traffic travelling south from the northern side of the crash will be diverted south at Tokoroa via Whakamaru to rejoin SH1 via SH30.

Assistant Commissioner Road Policing Dave Cliff said the crashes were a devastating prelude to the Christmas Holiday period, which begins officially next week.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those who have died in these terrible and tragic circumstances. This is a devastating loss and a horrific start to the Christmas period, especially as we focus on trying to reduce the rising road toll and make our roads safer," Mr Cliff said.

"While we don't yet know all the circumstances leading up to these crashes, it's a sobering reminder that we all need to do our part in staying safe on the roads.

"Police will also be out in force over the coming weeks both in the lead up to and during the Christmas / New Year break, with a highly visible police presence that will be targeting the five key factors that cause road crashes, deaths and injuries - speed, alcohol, seatbelt wearing, driver distraction and fatigue."


- Rotorua Daily Post

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