by Vaimoana Tapaleao
As families of four young people killed in car accidents at the weekend prepare for their funerals, police are once again calling on motorists and the public to be responsible.
Louise Reichenbach, 20, Bailey Kinita, 14, Rose-Ana Leigh Kingi, 21, and Eruera Munro, 22, all died on Sunday.
Miss Reichenbach and Bailey were two of seven passengers in a five-seat Ford Telstar travelling on Foxton Beach Rd, in Manawatu, when the vehicle rolled.
Miss Kingi and Mr Munro were among members of a netball team returning to Tauranga from a tournament in Hamilton when the car they were in and an oncoming vehicle collided on State Highway 29, near Karapiro, about 4pm.
Miss Kingi's family were yesterday preparing for her tangi at Hinekura Marae - where her 21st birthday celebration was held last September.
Her 75-year-old grandmother Timini Kingi described the moment she was told her granddaughter was dead.
"I fell into pieces," she told the Herald. "It was a rather shock because we'd just come back from Auckland. We'd been to another granddaughter's 21st. We got back here and we were hardly here and then we got the message."
Mrs Kingi said her granddaughter, the eldest of four children, had many friends and loved playing sport.
Meanwhile, teachers at Monrad Intermediate School in Palmerston North, where 14-year-old Bailey was a pupil in previous years, were shocked to hear of his death.
Principal John Forsyth said Bailey's two teachers were devastated.
"Both the teachers he had were really quite distressed when they heard how and when he died, because they both thought he was a champion little fella - a neat kid to have in the school and to have in their class."
Mr Forsyth said he too had fond memories of Bailey, particularly when he played the part of principal during a school assembly. "He was the principal of the school and of course he had to borrow one of my ties and jacket ... and he performed to the assembly being Mr Forsyth."
Police involved in investigating both fatal accidents are calling on drivers and members of the public who are first at the scene to be responsible.
In the Karapiro crash, a nearby resident cleared debris from the road using his tractor.
Although he thought he was doing the right thing, police say, removing items from a crash site makes it harder for investigators to establish exactly how the accident happened.
Police are asking witnesses to contact Morrinsville police on (07) 889-5071.
by Vaimoana Tapaleao