Fatal Hawke's Bay crash 'cut through the heart of the community' - mayor

7:39 pm on 2 December 2020

The small community of Dannevirke is reeling after a crash yesterday that killed three young women who lived in the town.

Three young women die

The young women's car collided with a truck on SH2. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

The crash happened on the main highway in Central Hawke's Bay while the women were on their way to work at Silver Fern Farms in Takapau.

Their car crashed into a truck on State Highway 2.

The driver of the truck is now in a stable condition after being airlifted to Hawke's Bay Hospital.

At the scene today, parts of vehicles remained such as lights, bumpers and glass. Flowers were placed on barriers beside the road.

Three young women die in fatal crash

Flowers have been laid near the crash site. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

A woman, who would not give her name, lives nearby and was a witness to the crash. She rushed to the scene when she heard a bang.

When she arrived, she said three young boys came rushing towards her.

"The young boy dropped down to his knees and wrapped himself, his arms around my legs and just cried and cried and cried and rang family. He was - they were totally in shock."

She was among those placing flowers at the site of the crash.

"We just went and picked some flowers and placed them on the area where the car had landed.

"Obviously, it was something that my mother was feeling that we could possibly do this morning and it's pretty raw..."

The young women who died were all aged under 20. They had all been to Dannevirke High School and one was still a student there.

Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis, who is based in Dannevirke, said they were a big part of the local youth scene.

"[They were] well known in the community, a lot of connections - sport, whānau, teachers, students. It's really cut through the heart of the community, especially when young people tragically lose their lives."

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Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis says it's tragic that young people have died in the accident. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Tararua Community Youth Service set up a memorial for the victims in their building in Dannevirke's town centre.

Service manager Jeanne O'Brien said they had a space where youth could congregate and remember the young women.

"Young people can come and sit and sing, reflect, write some notes, remembrance notes, and just have nice kai, just to be together. It's really important at these times that young people aren't isolated and can sit and reflect and share on the good things too."

Police were unavailable for an interview but said the crash was under investigation.

Scene of crash where three young women died

Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

So far in 2020, 23 people have died on Hawke's Bay roads - the region's highest death toll in the last five years.

Almost 300 people have died on the roads nationwide this year.