Timaru fatal crash: Family and friends remember ‘sweet, funny, cool’ teens killed. Video / George Heard
Two of the victims of a fatal crash that claimed five young lives in Timaru last night have been identified.
One of the boys was Niko Hill, 15, the Herald has confirmed.
Another was Javarney Drummond, also 15.
The pair died alongside three others when their car lost control and smashed into a power pole about 7.30pm on Saturday, ripping the vehicle in two.
The five boys died at the scene.
The group were travelling in a Nissan Bluebird sedan. One of the victims was found in the boot.
The driver suffered serious injuries but survived the crash.
Friends and family of Niko today visited the crash scene to pay their respects.
Meadow Bennett found out this morning that her cousin had died.
“I really am in shock,” she said.
“You don’t believe it until you see it. I don’t believe he’s gone.
“He’s just a young, sweet kid… he doesn’t need this.”
Kaleb Ewart visited the scene for some “peace of mind and see what happened”.
He said it was important that people got the message to be safe on the roads.
Niko was “still young, still growing up” and described him as having “a lot of cheekiness in him”.
“He always knew how to make you smile, make you laugh. Every time he walked in, he’d just brighten the room up,” Ewart said.
“I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Bennett said Niko was “a cool kid” and was struggling to come to terms with his loss.
“It doesn’t make sense to me. I just don’t get it.”
She took a piece of the car’s wreckage from the scene as a memento.
Niko Hill’s father learned of his death through a phone call late on Saturday night.
He said his heart was broken. He was not ready to speak more about Niko last night as he prepared to travel to Timaru to support the teen’s mother and wider family.
Javarney’s father Stephen Drummond told Stuff he went to bed on Saturday night expecting his son would soon return home to have his dinner and go to sleep.
“I went to bed, and I was asleep and my daughter was a bit concerned at what happened, and she got a couple of messages saying ‘hey sorry your brother’s dead, he’s had a car crash.'”
He told Stuff the driver had only had his restricted licence for three months.
“I’m not angry at him, I’m just disappointed in the way the whole lot has unfolded. There’s no point in taking any stress or any anger out on anybody because it’s not going to bring my son back. At the end of the day it’s not going to bring the five kids back.
The 19-year-old driver was well enough to post a message on social media this afternoon, including a photograph of himself in his hospital bed, apologising for the crash.
“Hello everyone just wanted to say I’m not dead I am very very lucky to still be alive and I can’t believe what has happened,” he wrote, in a post reported by Stuff.
“And I am so so so sorry to the families that I have put in pain coz of stupid mistakes that I made that has costed five lives.”
The reality of a horrific crash has begun to sink in for the shocked Timaru community.
Timaru mayor Nigel Bowen said the crash was an absolute tragedy that had affected not only the boys’ immediate families but local schools and the wider community.
“It’s just starting to settle in. It’s really hard to put into words. It’s going to take some time,” he said.
The victims – all aged 15 and 16 – were killed when the Nissan Bluebird sedan they were travelling in struck a power pole on Seadown Rd outside Timaru about 7.30pm last night.
One of the victims was found in the vehicle’s boot.
The 19-year-old driver survived the crash and is in Timaru Hospital.
As Timaru residents came to terms the tragedy today, Bowen had a message for his community – to put themselves in the shoes of the victims’ families.
“I just can’t imagine having a teenager leave home and not return and having that awful phone call.
“When we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we can hopefully reserve judgement around the accident itself and look at the people and how that affects their lives.”
Police say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. There were six people in the car, and not all were wearing seatbelts.
Bowen said young people were going home today and hugging their parents, and being thankful for being able to do that.
“There are six kids who haven’t been able to do that last night. I think amongst the community… the schools and the youngsters… they’ll be thinking really hard about this and what it means, driving and being in motor vehicles and making good decisions.
“All those lessons come out in time, but it doesn’t give back those parents their children, so it’s really tough.”
Stunned friends and family members visited the crash site today to pay their respects.
Aoraki Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said his thoughts and prayers were with the family of the young men.
“They woke up today to a nightmare that won’t go away,” he said.
“Timaru’s a very small community … It is a tragedy and it will reverberate around our community for a long time.”