Staff and students at a Rotorua high school are “devastated” after a former student was killed in a crash last week.
Trinity Vemoa, 18, and Corey-Leigh Tobin, 16, died and another teen was critically injured when the car they were in crashed into roadworks at speed on Thursday.
The crash happened at 5pm on State Highway 1 in Hūkerenui, south of Kawakawa in Northland.
Both Corey-Leigh and Trinity attended Kaitāia College and the school said they were remembered as “beautiful” students.
Prior to attending Kaitāia College, Corey-Leigh was a hostel student at Rotorua Girls’ High School in term one and part of term two this year.
Rotorua Girls’ High School principal Sarah Davis said the school was “devastated” to hear of the tragic loss.
Corey-Leigh was “well-respected”, a good athlete and intelligent, Davis said.
Davis said staff and students were “absolutely devastated” by the news and for the whānau and the Northland community.
She said staff and students were “really feeling it”.
No one ever wanted to hear such news, and Davis urged people to be as safe as possible on the roads.
In a post on Facebook yesterday, Rotorua Girls’ High School shared a karakia for Corey-Leigh.
“It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of a former student, a foundation pupil of our boarding hostel - Te Whare Whawhao o Te Aokapurangi.
“We lay our aroha at the feet of Corey-Leigh Tobin and her whānau. We add our karakia to the many karakia and stories that have been shared since her passing,” it stated.
“As she is laid to rest today, we remember Corey-Leigh for her contribution to our school and our hostel - Kia au te moe e ko.”
Serious crash investigator Jeff Cramp told the Northern Advocate that at the time of the crash the car was speeding southward on SH1.
After crashing into roadworks, the driver lost control and ended up on a farm paddock.
“For some reason, they ignored the 30km/h speed limit sign set by the roadwork guys, who had left for the day,” said Cramp.
“Their speeding vehicle hit some of the roadworks, crossed the centre line and caused them to lose control of their car due to the loose metal on the tarsealed road.
“The car then rolled and flipped over a farm driveway until they ended up on the paddocks.”
The Northern Advocate reported that none of the car’s occupants appeared to be wearing seatbelts.
He did not specify who was driving but did say the young female passenger - Corey-Leigh - appeared to have been thrown from the vehicle as it rolled.
Kaitāia College posted photographs and tributes to the students on Facebook on Saturday.
“With heavy hearts we announce the passing of our beautiful student,” said separate posts naming each of the victims.
“Our thoughts and aroha are with the whānau at this time.”
A notice was posted online by Haven Falls Poutama Tangihanga Funeral Home on behalf of Corey-Leigh’s family, describing her as a “beloved daughter and sister”.
“It is with broken hearts we are devastated to announce the tragic passing of our beautiful girl Corey-Leigh Kahutia Tobin,” the post said.
She will be returning to her tūpuna o Ngāti Kuri, where she will lie at Waiora marae.
Corey-Leigh’s mother said she was “devastated”.
“It is with broken hearts we are devastated to announce the tragic passing of our beautiful girl Corey-Leigh Kahutia Tobin,” she wrote online.
“Gone far too soon our baby girl.”
Hundreds of people posted messages of condolence and support for both teens’ families.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
- Additional reporting: Anna Leask
Cira Olivier is a social issues and breaking news reporter for NZME Bay of Plenty. She has been a journalist since 2019.