Family tried in vain to save driver

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014
Havelock North crash

FATAL: A car is removed from the scene of the Havelock North crash in May in which Hina Hamahona died.

Hina Hamahona
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HINA HAMAHONA: Died when his car left a road and ended up in a stream in Havelock North on May 19.

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A driver who suffered fatal injuries in a car crash was able to send a text message to his father before dying, so his family would find him, his brother says.

Hina Hamahona, of Flaxmere, Hastings, died about 4.15am on May 19 after driving off Longlands Rd and crashing into Karamu Stream, while heading towards Havelock North to work.

His Subaru Legacy crashed through a barrier on a small bridge, became airborne and hit a bank before rolling into the water.

Before dying, he sent a text to his father Morris, who woke his other son Maurice.

The pair left their Flaxmere house and drove the route they knew Hina took to work - a trip the 25-year-old had made for more than two years.

"We didn't know where he was, but we knew he was on the way to work, so we just drove the route until we found him. We thought he'd crashed into one of the orchards," said Maurice, 19.

On seeing the car, they thought Hina was probably dead, "but we were hoping he wasn't, so tried to get him out".

"The car doors wouldn't open so we got on top and tried to rip the roof off, but that didn't work. We'd have tried anything to get him out."

They rang police who used heavy lifting equipment to raise the submerged car from the stream.

Maurice said it was impossible to know what Hina had been thinking, but he believed he may have sent a text because he was unable to speak after the crash.

"According to the doctors that spoke to us, it's just a fluke that he could even send the text. He was really badly hurt. It's a bit hard to talk about.

"My father and I knew that he'd know we'd go hunting for him, and that we'd find him.

"Me and the old man reckon he was just complacent. He drives that road so often. It would have been a real short loss of concentration."

He could not recall the exact wording of the text, but said it was something like: "I've had a crash come and help me".

Maurice said he and his father and brother had moved to Hawke's Bay from Whanganui about 10 years ago.

The boys' mother died two years ago, and two sisters died in the two years before that. Hina is now buried with them at Ratana urupa.

"Our family's been pretty smashed," Maurice said.

Hina was "a cool fella, a great brother".

"He was a kind dude. He helped a lot of people in any way he could."

He didn't drink or smoke and he loved his rugby and motor sports, Maurice said.

Hina's tangi was huge, attracting more than 1000 people from around the country.

Senior Sergeant Greg Brown, in charge of road policing and alcohol harm in Hawke's Bay, said autopsy results were expected in the next few weeks.

Those and Hina's cellphone data would be used to establish the cause of death. "We will not draw any conclusions. All will be referred to the coroner."

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