The distraught mother of a 12-year-old girl who died during a police pursuit near Palmerston North thought her little girl was in class and is stunned by her tragic death.
Meadow James was in the front passenger seat when the car driven by 15-year-old Ihaia Maxwell slid out of control and crashed into a power pole in Longburn yesterday.
Meadow died at the scene and Ihaia was taken to hospital with critical injuries where he died shortly after. A 15-year-old girl who was in the back seat remains in hospital.
Neither family blame police for the children's deaths.
Meadow's mother Rachel James told 1 News the first she knew that her daughter had got into the car with Ihaia was when she returned home from work on Monday afternoon.
Fighting back tears, Rachel said she thought her daughter had gone to her course.
"I left her in the morning the last I knew she was at her course then I come home from work and find out she's gone in this car.
"I play back what I could have changed. I could have done better, but it's happened and I can't do anything.
"I'm still stunned myself, for me it's the second time round. I've already lost a child."
Rachel's son Leif died four years ago, also after fleeing police in northern Sydney, on October 31, 2013.
"At the end of the day it's happened and there is nothing we can do to change it," Rachel James told 1 News.
"I don't blame anyone. I don't blame the family of the boy who was driving. It's just, you know, they never wanted for their son to die either. It's just one of those things that has happened and now we have to accept it."
Rebecca James said her sister was already beating herself up and did not need the negative comments the family had been receiving on social media about the crash.
"As a parent of someone who has lost a child who is saying she could have done better, she is beating herself up already ..."
Ihaia's grandparents, Dennis and Kat Maxwell, told 1 News about their much-loved grandson who had a supportive whanau, but who had chosen the wrong path.
"Definitely full of life, had a lot of potential as you know young kids do. It's just heartbreaking that he went down the road he did go down. We know it's been quite difficult for his parents, but you know he had a pretty supportive whanau and, you know things just happen, and this is the end of the unfortunate events," Kat said.
Dennis said he did not blame the police for the crash or pursuing the car.
"That's their job.
"It's our moko and we love him but we can't turn back the time. We just can't."
Grieving friends and family have posted heartfelt tributes to Meadow and Ihaia on social media.
One person who said she was a friend of both children said she would cherish every memory made with both of them.
Another woman who said she was one of Meadow's "many aunties" said she had been taken too soon and that she had warned her about hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"One of these many kids, is my niece ... day to day, I used to tell her and her older sister ... not to be so hood, not to hang around bad influences and not to do stupid shit like this for example.
"It saddens me that some people don't realise their influence on others. The world hasn't seen enough of you! 12 years of having your smiles and laughs. 12 years too short."