A Nelson mother killed as a driver fleeing police crashed into her car is believed to have been on her way to set up a regular stall at the Sunday market.

Carmen Marie Yanko, 53, and the two occupants of the fleeing vehicle – Johnathan Tairakena, 25, and 33-year-old Phillip Jamie Stretch – all died at the scene.

Adrienne Matthews, who knew Yanko from working at the market, told Newstalk ZB's Marcus Lush, that Yanko's death had affected the whole community.

"The first thing I thought when I heard of the crash was, 'Oh gosh, I hope that was not somebody going to the Sunday market'.


"I have worked at the market, where I met Carmen a few times. She was a store holder there.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard it was her, on her way to market.

"I feel sick for her and her family."

Yanko was on her way to Monty's Market in Nelson, where it is believed she had a regular stall selling various antiques and collectables.

Yanko died after her car was hit by a man fleeing police. Photo / Facebook
Yanko died after her car was hit by a man fleeing police. Photo / Facebook

Police had been chasing Tairakena's vehicle for 6km and the pursuit had not been called off when the collision happened on State Highway 6 near Clover Rd at about 5.40am.

The chase happened after police attempted to stop a vehicle as part of a wanted person investigation early on Sunday morning.

Police have confirmed the person they were looking for was not Stretch or Tairakena.

Matthews said she was woken up by the police chase.


"I was woken up by the sound of vehicles going at the most extraordinary speed, on a road that is pretty dangerous anyway."

Police chases needed to stop, she said.

"To see the devastation that occurs, not just to the immediate people, but the communities around as well, is just too big a price to pay.

"I feel sorry for police, but it has got to stop. Too many people are dying, and are injured as a result of police chases.

"I had met [Yanko] a few times, for her life to be wiped out because of that one action.

"It is not worth somebody losing their life."

Monty's Sunday Market manager Jason Knight told media the team was "devastated" and "shocked" to hear Yanko had died.

Yanko's children say they are "heartbroken and reeling from this senseless tragedy".

"She lived to be a mother and was there for us always," they said.

"Carmen loved and lived fiercely and will be terribly missed by her family and friends."