29 Nov 2014

Collision deaths devastate community

9:14 pm on 29 November 2014

The Australian group whose van fatally collided with a milk tanker near Rotorua yesterday afternoon was in New Zealand on a school camp.

Emergency services at the scene earlier today.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash earlier today. Photo: Philips Search & Rescue Trust

The 36-year-old driver of the van, Andre Vogel, and a 16-year-old passenger, Gabriel Runge, were both killed in the crash.

Andre Vogel

Andre Vogel Photo: LINKEDIN

The group - made up of two teachers and seven students from Noosa Pengari Steiner School in Queensland - had been in the country a week, and were due to return to Australia tomorrow.

They had been travelling back from an excursion to the Tongariro Crossing when they hit the tanker head on.

Police said their van was travelling on the wrong side of the road when the crash happened, on State Highway 5 near Reporoa.

Another 16-year-old passenger remained in a critical condition at Waikato Hospital.

The other five students, and a female teacher, were discharged from Rotorua Hospital today.

The 60-year-old driver of the Fonterra milk tanker was taken to hospital as a precaution and was discharged.

Police said they would be investigating why the van was on the wrong side of the road.