French students and father-to-be killed after car crosses centre line on Hauraki highway video

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/Stuff.co.nz

Police are investigating yesterday’s crash on State Highway 2 at Netherton, which claimed four lives.

They were studying engineering in Auckland and were heading to Hobbiton in the Waikato for a weekend visit.

But in the dense fog of Saturday night, three of the five young Frenchmen died when their car collided with another driven by a local Paeroa man about to become a first-time father.

Around 7.40pm, the five male students, some of whom only recently arrived in the country to study, were driving south in a Toyota Corolla along State Highway 2 heading into the small town of Netherton on the main arterial route through the Hauraki Plains.

Reece Growden died in a crash on SH2, Netherton, on Saturday night.
supplied

Reece Growden died in a crash on SH2, Netherton, on Saturday night.

Heading north, Reece Anthony Growden, 25, had just picked up a black BMW and was heading to the car yard in Ngatea where he worked.

"A vehicle of French tourists has collided with an oncoming vehicle, which has caused three of the young Frenchmen to die and the driver of the oncoming vehicle has also died as a result of the collision," Hauraki and Thames-Coromandel road policing Sergeant Rachel Holmes said. 

Holmes said early indications show the two cars crashed head-on after one vehicle, understood to be that of the students, crossed the centre line.

Debris on State Highway 2 near Netherton and Paeroa in the Waikato, where four people died in a two-car crash on ...
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Debris on State Highway 2 near Netherton and Paeroa in the Waikato, where four people died in a two-car crash on Saturday evening.

In the misty darkness, residents nearby reported hearing a large explosion when one car went up in flames before silence engulfed the scene. 

Those living nearby ran to help the six men. 

One truck driver, who also asked for anonymity, looked out his lounge room window to see a vehicle on fire just south of Fisher Road.

Debris left on the road after the quadruple fatal crash near Paeroa on Saturday evening.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Debris left on the road after the quadruple fatal crash near Paeroa on Saturday evening.

"I chucked my high-vis vest on and ran out to help," he said on Sunday.

Ad Feedback

"The car that was on fire ... there was no helping [any] people in there. It was too late to get the fire extinguishers, the flames covered the whole of the car.

"I got a torch and started searching the drain for bodies because it was dark and I wasn't sure if there were people flung from the car.

"That's when I saw there was a white vehicle in the drain."

Two of those inside the Toyota that ploughed off the road were able to escape the wreck and were taken through to Waikato Hospital.

On Monday a Waikato Hospital spokesperson said the pair, both men in their 30s, were in a serious but stable condition, one in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit and the other in the High Dependency Unit.  

Holmes said police were told the group of friends were headed to Matamata to visit the popular Hobbiton film set. 

"They were young engineering interns, some had just arrived in the country within the last few weeks."

She said work was still being done to formally identify the students and contact next of kin.

"The French Embassy is assisting the parents of the young Frenchmen and making arrangements for families to come over - they are families who have lost their sons and another two families who have got their sons but are very seriously injured."

"It was a horrific scene to attend for all of the witnesses who stopped to render assistance and the emergency services who dealt with it.

"From what they saw and dealt with, if any of those witnesses require assistance or counselling, just let us know."

Growden's mother Deane Olsen said her son had just found out his partner Ponamu King was pregnant with their first child, due in December. 

"We found out a few weeks ago, he was absolutely looking forward to it."

She said her son was "born to drive" and had just been made a permanent staff member at Stuie's Cars at Ngatea.

"That was his dream job, driving cars to the car yard, he'd just found out he'd gone permanent and when I spoke to him on Saturday he was so stoked."

Olsen said Growden had just picked up the BMW and was taking it to the yard when he died just past Netherton on Saturday night.

"From what I gather, he moved over, the car hit him and his car burst into flames - he was 2 kilometres from the yard."

Reality of the loss had not yet sunken in for Olsen, who described her son as having a heart of gold. 

"He was an angel, there are no bad words to be said about him, just a good kid."

Growden leaves behind two sisters aged 22 and 18. 

Saturday night's crash was one of six fatal road crashes that had impacted on the local Hauraki and Coromandel communities since the end of last year, Holmes said. 

"Not all occurred here, but they definitely affected the local community."

"There're too many young people dying on the roads, too many in total, but a number are young people."

She urged all motorists to allow extra time to travel and drive to the conditions. 

If anyone has information about the crash or attended the crash and wants assistance they can call Thames Police on 07-867 9600

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Poi dancing good for elderly

Poi, a traditional Maori dance, involves weights on the ends of cords being spun in circular patterns.

The Maori dance can help seniors improve their balance and memory, according to a new study.

Wakeboarder towed by seaplane

Brad Smeele, Brant Hales and Jesse Cassrels set new standards to raise awareness.

Wakeboarder Brad Smeele injured his spine three years ago. His friends are going to extremes to help raise awareness.

Auckland teacher shortage will get worse

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers are thinking about leaving the city, a new ...

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers considering moving due to cost of living, survey reveals.

Digger flips, driver trapped

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after his digger flipped over in Flat Bush on Monday afternoon.

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after an incident in Auckland's Flat Bush.

Wellington

Capital's cycle lanes a Kiwi-first

A proposed new contra-flow bike lane on Wellington's Cuba St will allow people to ride both ways along part of the ...

Proposed new lanes will allow Wellington's cyclists to ride against the flow of traffic.

Ticketed in free park

Shane Leach has been parking his motorhome in the free car park since November, but has been ticketed twice by Wilson ...

The tiny car park is a "hidden gem" in the capital. That didn't stop Wilson Parking.

Celebrations timed rugby team out

Masterton Red Star have received a valuable reminder about converting tries in a timely fashion.

With seconds to go, they scored a try. But their celebratory high-fives came too soon - and went on too long.

Do we have hazard fatigue?

Civil Defence says it's important to follow a trusted source for official warnings.

Study finds widespread scepticism of official disaster warnings.

Canterbury

Huts near lake still underwater video

Questions have been raised about Lake Ellesmere not being opened ahead of floods that inundated Lower Selwyn Huts over ...

Questions are being asked about why Canterbury's Lake Ellesmere was not opened to the sea ahead of the weekend's flooding.

Man with a flood plan

24072017 Photo: John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

. Flooding

When a flood looks likely, Hugo Young starts raising all his belongings off the floor - but soon he'll have a flood wall.

With a whisker to spare video

Some of the cats at the planned cafe will be available for adoption.

Plans to open a Christchurch cat cafe are purring along nicely.

First look at Kaikoura village video

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Accommodation Village.

Mark von Huben​ has upped sticks from Chch to help rebuild the quake-damaged SH1.

Waikato

Parents sell up to treat child video

Moana Forbes admits that Ka'iulani's illness has changed their lives, but they couldn't live with themselves if they ...

A Hamilton couple are selling their home to give their first born a fighting chance.

Death a 'homicide' video

Police tape guards the scene in North Street, Te Awamutu.

Body discovery scream startles couple as they nestle in for prime time telly. 

SH25A closed for days

The slip occurred near Kitahi Road, close to the summit.

Main road over Coromandel Peninsula won't be clear until at least Thursday, though one lane may open sooner.

NZ's worst footpath?

Te Ranga Memorial Drive has an unusual footpath design.

Ten steps forward, one step sideways. Tauranga City Council left defending flexible path twisting up users.

Taranaki

Faull family success

06042017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.   Saturday big read,  Faull Farms at Tikorangi is one of Taranakis biggest ...

Gavin Faull is one of two Taranaki entries on the latest NBR Rich List.

A virtual remedy

Digital health deputy Janine Maruera photographs Makaiah Nui's tummy as she is held by cousin Tesha Whakatutu,  during ...

A combination of local gumption and modern technology is bringing health care to a town with no doctor.

'Moonshine' madness 

Drunk on home brew whisky or "moonshine" a South Taranaki man assaulted his partner and drove dangerously. (File Photo)

 A South Taranaki farmer was so drunk on moonshine he had little memory of assaulting his partner.

Something beginning with C

240717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Central School in New Plymouth has had the 'C' stolen from its front entrance. ...

Be on the lookout for a missing C. It belongs to Entral School, formerly known as Central School.

Manawatu

Last supper for church video

Bishop's Warden Steve Fowler outside the church building.

Earthquake prone Levin church has been part of the community since the 1890s.

Another gorge slip

A new slip has fallen on the already-closed Manawatu Gorge road.

The closed Manawatu Gorge road is blocked by a third slip that came down this weekend.

Win for developer

Palmerston North courthouse.

Property developer wins case after High Court incorrectly interprets the law.

Flood-damaged paths repaired

Fresh erosion on the Mangaone Stream has exposed more stormwater pipes.

Paths have been left sodden, silted and damaged by floods.

Nelson

Recyclable cups end up in landfill

Smart Environmental manager Yuri Schokking with recycled plastic at the Richmond Resource Recovery Centre.

Almost all our disposable coffee cups are going nowhere near the recycling plant.

Weekend crime spree

The door at the Milton Street Store in Nelson was replaced with a sheet of plywood after a ram-raid attack on the store ...

Another dairy raid caps a spate of crimes across Nelson on a busy weekend for police.

Cadets' voyage of discovery

The Nelson Sea Cadets with LTCOL Josh Wineera, New Zealand Defence Advisor to Fiji and LT Sam Wilson, Military Liaison ...

It was hardly smooth sailing, but Nelson's young sailors learned plenty about theimselves.

Pain relief battle

Yvonne Gill has been using opioid painkillers for 10 years to manage pain from a medical mishap.

 A Nelson woman is angry at doctors for stopping access to strong painkillers.

Marlborough

First look at Kaikoura village video

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Accommodation Village.

Mark von Huben​ normally wears a tour guide's hat when he visits Kaikoura - now he's behind the wheel of a dump truck carting rubble away from slips blocking SH1.

$231m boost for SH1

A slip on State Highway 1 after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

New cycleway announced for 60km section of quake-hit highway north of Kaikoura.

Cats suffer anxiety too

Vet Centre Marlborough senior veterinarian Mark Wiseman says some cats have to take anxiety medication long term.

Some of our feline friends are so stressed they need anti-anxiety pills, just like humans.

End of the Manhattan

23072017 News Photo- RICKY WILSON/STUFF
The Manhattan Cafe has been sold after 28 years of ownership by 
Murray and Mary ...

Blenheim's longest-running cafe calls it a day.

South Canterbury

'Lake' consumes farm

Farmer Geoff Wallace on his Hook Swamp Rd property, which is still inundated with water.

Rapidly rising water in a flood-prone area meant a South Canterbury farmer ended up with a trailer load of dead calves.

$500k clean-up bill gallery video

Ashbury Mowers & Heating business in Washdyke had to get rid of chainsaws and line trimmers that had water damage. ...

Cleaning up the Timaru District aftermath storm will come with $500k price tag.

'Tough as teak' ex-AB dies

Tom Lister played eight tests as an All Black against, Australia, France, Wales, South Africa and the 1971 British and ...

South Canterbury's most-capped test All Black Tom Lister dies, aged 73.

Chainsawing through

Ricky Hunter had no way out of his Bouverie St property other than on foot, after a tree fell down onto the driveway ...

In a bid for freedom after the weekend's storm, Ricky Hunter picked up a chainsaw.

Southland

"The culinary world has just lost a gentleman"

Scott Richardson, pictured here in 2015, in his role as a catering and hospitality teacher at Southland Boys' High School.

Well-known Invercargill chef Scott Richardson died this morning in Dunedin Hospital.

'Business as usual'

Aparima College principal Kaye Day. The latest Governmental report on the College said "urgent" improvement in ...

A troubled Southland secondary school is to continue as usual, despite its leadership coming under fire.

Hotel facing potential delays

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey in front of the proposed site of the ILT's new multi-million ...

The Invercargill Licensing Trust has unearthed some speed bumps in its plans to build a new inner city hotel.

Defending champions on fire

Wensley's Fire cyclists from left to right, Nick Barclay, Marty Jillings, Ben Coley and Tai-Anne Blair set off in the ...

The fire service team has confirmed its the fastest emergency service in Invercargill.

Ad Feedback