Two Gisborne women killed, four injured in crash near Palmerston North
The names of two Gisborne women killed in an early morning car crash near Palmerston North today have been released by police.
Kathryn Dinah Matenga, 70, Annie Tamanui, 69, died after the car they and four others were travelling in crossed the centre line and collided with a culvert on State Highway 56 at Longburn.
The women died at the scene and the car's other four passengers were taken to Palmerston North Hospital. All six passengers are understood to be related.
Police believe a 53-year-old male was driving the vehicle with Matenga in the passengers seat and Tamanui and two others, a 10-year-old boy and a 29-year-old woman, in the back seat.
At this stage police cannot confirm where a 3-year-old male was sitting at the time of the crash.
''We believe the vehicle was travelling back to an address after having picked up a family member when the crash occurred, Manawatu police Senior Sergeant Ashley Gurney said.
''This is a horrific tragedy for the families of the victims and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this dark time."
Of the four taken to hospital, the driver and the 10-year-old boy is in a stable condition and the 29-year-old woman is in a serious condition. The 3-year-old sustained minor injuries and is being monitored. All four remain in hospital.
A local kaumatua attended the crash scene earlier today and performed a blessing and karakia.
''We are working to determine what factors have led to the crash as well as the probability that the back seat passengers may not have been restrained,'' Gurney said.
An examination of the vehicle is underway and police are still seeking witnesses to the crash.
''We want to speak to anyone that was driving down State Highway 56 around 1:30am, as they may have seen something that could help us piece together the vehicle's movements on the road prior to the collision and I encourage them to contact police,'' Gurney said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Senior Sergeant Gurney on (06) 351 3843. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.