Horror smash family forlorn

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 10:00 11/01/2014
Trent Whitburn
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MOURNED: Trent Whitburn, 20, died in a fiery crash on State Highway 1 south of Sanson.
Margaret Trent Whitburn
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NANNY: Margaret, 51, was killed along with her 20-year-old son Trent Whitburn. She is pictured here holding her grandson.

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The young family of the mother and son tragically killed in a fiery car crash have found themselves faced with mounting expenses they can't afford while they struggle to come to terms with their loss.

Trent Cole Whitburn, 20, and his mother Margaret Jane Turnbull, 51, both of Levin, were killed when the car they were travelling in was involved in a crash with two trucks on State Highway 1 south of Sanson early on Wednesday morning.

Both Ms Turnbull, driving a red Nissan accompanied by her son, and a Big Chill truck ahead of them, were travelling slowly in the wake of two Central House Movers trucks transporting a 110-tonne catamaran when they were hit from behind by another truck, carrying produce.

The Nissan was pushed under the back of the Big Chill truck and all three vehicles caught fire. Ms Turnbull and Mr Whitburn were killed outright, but both truck drivers escaped unharmed.

Mr Whitburn, who knew the grief of losing a parent, having lost his own father, had a 14-month-old son, Hohepa, with partner Suede Morresey.

Family friend Selena McDonald said Trent was one of five children. His siblings had been left reeling in the wake of the sudden deaths of their family members.

A close family, they were "in each other's lives every day", she said.

Mr Whitburn "had just got on his feet" and had set up a home with Miss Morresey and their child in Levin.

Ms Turnbull, or "Margie" as she was known to friends, had a "warm aura".

"Her smile . . . A lot of young people warmed to her and felt safe with her, and she was there for him."

On the morning of the accident the pair were travelling home after visiting friends, she said.

The remaining children, ranging in age from 13 to 26, did not have a lot and were not sure how they were going to pay for the expenses they faced.

"They're picking up the pieces with next to no adult support," she said.

Youth Quest Kapiti mentoring manager Darcy Hata said Mr Whitburn completed a 10-week course with them in 2011.

He was helping Mr Whitburn get a fulltime farming job, and last spoke to him just before Christmas.

When he asked about his son, Mr Whitburn gushed about his baby boy, calling him "the bomb".

"He was very family orientated, and he loved his mum, they got on really well."

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While on the course, aimed at giving young men some direction in life, Mr Whitburn thrived and got along well with his peers, Mr Hata said.

He didn't mince his words, but was also very funny, he said.

Manawatu CIB Acting Detective Sergeant Shelley Ross yesterday ruled out both the Nissan and Big Chill truck as contributors to the crash.

The Central House Movers trucks were not involved in the crash, and were making the trip with the right permits in a professional and legal manner.

It is not yet known if the driver of the produce truck will face charges.

"The crash investigation is ongoing and there is still a lot of information to be sourced and reviewed before any conclusions can be drawn, especially in relation to any potential criminal charges," Ms Ross said.

Donations to the family of Mr Whitburn and Ms Turnbull can be made to this bank account: Suede Morresey, 02-0668-0060820-03 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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