Police have named the family of five found dead in a crash near Whakamaru, northwest of Taupo, this afternoon.
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Contractors came across the crash scene in a forest area on State Highway 32 about 1.40pm, less than an hour after two Indian tourists were killed in a second crash just 30km away on State Highway 1.
Police said the driver of the vehicle in which the Whakamaru family died was 23-year-old Lisa Crowley. Her partner, Richard Melling, 37, was the front seat passenger.
In the rear of the vehicle were 11-year-old Jordan Melling, 2-year-old Brody Crowley and a 3-week old boy, who police believed was yet to be named. The baby was in a baby capsule.
They were a blended family with Lisa the mother of the youngest of the children and Richard the father of Jordan.
Police know that they were seen at their home in Whakamaru by family and friends at 8pm on Sunday.
Their vehicle appeared to have been heading towards Whakamaru suggesting that at some stage they had left the settlement to an unknown destination and were then returning, police said.
The vehicle appeared to have left the road and struck a tree, almost splitting in half. The engine of the vehicle was dislodged by the force of the crash.
It was not clear when the crash happened and police would like to hear from anyone who knew of the family's movements between Sunday night and today.
Meanwhile, the names of the two Indian men killed in the SH1 crash were unlikely to be released today as overseas inquiries were being made, police said.
The tourists, who were headed towards Taupo, died after their car collided head-on with a truck about 1pm.
The male truck driver, and a female passenger, both from Kaitaia, were treated for minor injuries at Tokoroa Hospital.
Area Commander for Taupo, Inspector Steve Bullock, called the crashes "an absolute tragedy''.
"A Christmas in ruins for a number of families and friends. Our hearts go out to them.
"It is a timely reminder of just how easily lives can be changed in an instance. I would ask that everyone please reflect on what has happened today and do everything possible to ensure that we do not see more lives lost on our roads over the holidays," he said.
"We don't yet know what caused these particular crashes but we do know that speed, alcohol, fatigue, inattention and a lack of restraints are major factors in deaths on our roads. Please drive to the conditions and to your ability at all times."
Assistant Commissioner road policing Dave Cliff said the crashes were a devastating prelude to the Christmas holiday period, which begins officially next week.
Anyone with information about either of these crashes are asked to contact Taupo police on 07 378 6060.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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