A Feilding teen critically injured in a car crash near Apiti has died.
Jessica Watts, 18, died in Palmerston North Hospital on Saturday.
Watts was a passenger in a Ford ute that crashed in Oroua Valley Rd shortly after midnight on Friday.
Feilding Sergeant Grant Lawton said Watts was thrown some 15 metres from the vehicle as it crashed down a 5m bank. She suffered serious head injuries.
The driver of the vehicle, a 21-year-old man, was moderately injured.
A police spokeswoman said the serious crash unit was investigating, but it was too soon to comment on charges. Last week, however, Lawton said the pair had been drinking, potentially for up to six hours before the man drove.
Watts' mother, Pauline de la Haye, yesterday wanted to make it clear that the vehicle's driver was not in a relationship with her daughter, and was a friend of a friend.
She also did not believe her daughter had been drinking for the time police said; rather, she believed her daughter had had one or two drinks before being driven home by the man.
A devoted equestrian, Watts loved horses and had ridden and worked with horses for most of her life. She shared a close relationship with her mother and her death had left her whole family "beyond devastated".
Watts' friends paid tribute to the teen on Facebook. "You don't really miss someone till they're gone, and even when they are, you never completely say goodbye," Erina Grace Morgan said.
And from Nicole Rees: "Can still not believe God has taken away the most beautiful girl, the bestest friend anyone could ask for and the most treasured sister/daughter. It still doesn't seem real, I'm waiting to hear that it's all a lie and you're really not gone; that's what I want to hear anyway."
Watts' funeral will be held in Feilding tomorrow.
- Manawatu Standard