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

Gangs' fight night draws skeptics video

Tokomauri Hoterene bloodied from his fight against Head Hunter Cory Enoka.

Members from 12 rival factions stepped into the ring in a show against violence. But critics don't buy it.

Lotto punter wins $8m

The winning ticket was bought at Botany New World in Auckland.

A lucky winner from Auckland has pocketed $8 million after winning Powerball First Division in Saturday night's draw.

Driver injured in sheep crash

The crash happened around 6.50pm on Kaipara Coast Highway between Barr Rd and West Coast Rd. (FILE PHOTO)

Auckland motorist flown to hospital after colliding with a sheep and rolling into a ditch north of Auckland.

Eatery no longer an E grade

Wok Wok and Matsu Sushi are next to each other in Westcity Waitakere and were  forced to close down in April.

Two food court restaurants were closed because of rodents and cockroaches, one is now A-grade.

Wellington

Wellington loses Si and Gary show

Wellingtonians won't hear Si & Gary on their breakfast show anymore.

But they'll get something more local in return - Polly and Grant.

Man caught with gun

A man was arrested after police found a loaded shotgun in a car. (FILE PHOTO)

Gang tension is believed to be be behind the arrest of a man carrying a loaded shotgun in Masterton.

How to stop begging? video

Marcus Pohio is homeless and regularly begs on Courtenay Place, in Wellington.

The only thing that will get Marcus Pohio off the street is death. But is public generosity speeding that up?

Ex-British Cars House for sale

The building features a tiled lobby and a vintage cage lift.

1920s character building with penthouse apartment and rooftop on the market.

Canterbury

Photos: Christchurch floods

Heathcote River flooding near Sloane Terrace.

The Heathcote River has burst its banks and flooded southern parts of the city.

Live: Southern deluge 

The rain may have eased but parts of Canterbury and Otago are still underwater.

State of emergencies declared in several areas as flood waters force scores of evacuations.

State of emergency in Chch

Christchurch's Heathcote River was in flood on Saturday morning.

Residents evacuated in boats as persistent rain floods the Heathcote River, closing roads and inundating properties.

Heathcote residents trapped

Waimea Terrace resident Tarapreet Singh, 25.

The kitchen sink is brimming with water and the nearly overflowing toilet is unflushable.

Waikato

Historic cottage illegally destroyed

This Huntly coal-mining cottage in Tregoweth Street was torn down illegally by its owner, Kevin David Lynch, in January 2016.

The owner was fined $10,000 after he bulldozed the late Victorian coal miner's cottage.

Body in bale ruling

The body was found at OJI Fibre Solutions and FullCircle Recycling on June 28 in Frankton's Pukeko Street.

If it hadn't been raining, Daniel Bindner might not have crawled into a cardboard recycling cage.

Crash closes SH1

Police are at the scene of a crash on SH1 north of Turangi which has blocked the road.

Contractors working to clear State Highway 1 north of Turangi after a truck rolls.

Quad bike safety an attitude thing

Trauma data reveals a huge peak in quad bike injuries among the 55-to-65 age group.

Wintec students look to solve the problem of quad bike accidents.

Taranaki

Terrier looking for a friend

210717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Katie Tahere's dog Mocha is looking for a walking buddy after her dog Coco ...

Mocha is looking for a new walking companion after losing her best friend.

Farewells not the focus

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie says the team aren't focusing on rallying together to try and send the departees out on a high.

Any game now could be the last for several stalwarts, but the Chiefs aren't using departures as motivation.

Building gets new roof

The New Plymouth District Council decided in January to use shingles instead of corrugated iron on the Gables under ...

The Gables Gallery's shiny new roof looks the part, thanks to 20,000 new shingles

From reporter to magical nanny

Not quite as graceful as Mary Poppins, but reporter Tara Shaskey gets a first-hand lesson on the production's flying stunts.

Mary Poppins is just a little bit magical. And that doesn't come easy or cheap.

Manawatu

Fetch not always a fun game

Chasing sticks can be a dangerous game, write vet Malcolm Anderson.

OPINION: Vet Malcolm Anderson offers some words of advice about the dangers of playing fetch.

No random drug tests 

Only following a police shooting do officers undergo drug and alcohol testing. (File photo).

Police are only given drug and alcohol testing if they fire a gun during an incident.

Millions spent fixing police cars

A police car comes to a final halt after crashing through a Hamilton property in June.

More than $8 million has been spent fixing damaged police cars in the past three years, with costs peaking in 2016.

Moon landing celebrated 

Buzz Aldrin stands on the Moon.

MEMORY LANE: Do you remember the first Moon landing?

Nelson

Nelson too good for Wanderers

22072017 NEWS PHOTO MARTIN DE RUYTER/ STUFF

Nelson players and support staff after winning the  Nelson Bays Division 1 ...

Nelson turn it on to hammer Wanderers in Nelson Bays club rugby final. 

Buzz about beekeeping

05062015 News Photo: Marion van Dijk / Fairfax NZ.

Urban beekeeper Nigel Costley with one of his beehives in the ...

Nelsonians keen to learn more about keeping bees can do so in a short course through the Nelson Environment Centre.

Trespass case win

Lawyer John Fitchett has won a trespass case against Nelson College.

Lawyer wins case against Nelson College board meetings, but judge unimpressed.

Dancers put their best foot forward

Lillian Southward performs in the Jazz Solo section at the Nelson Performing Arts Competitions 83rd Annual Festival at ...

 Toes were on point at the performing arts competition held over the weekend.

Marlborough

All hands on deck

John's Kitchen supervisor Richard McDonald likes the idea that food can be an expression of care.

Blenheim charity kitchen takes on new staff to cope with high workload.

Team turned around

The MBC Falcons rugby team had a frustrating day on Friday.

MBC First XV rugby team spent around 14 hours in a bus yesterday, then never even got to pull their boots on.

The next big quake

The Adelphi Hotel, in Kaikoura, was pulled down due to earthquake damage.

It's impossible to say when an earthquake is going to strike. But the predictable patterns of aftershocks can help.

Exploring Africa

The Hansby family at Victoria Falls, from left, Luke Hansby, Fleur Hansby, Nick Hansby and Sam Hansby.

When you plan your trip to Africa, the animals and environment are expected to be the main attraction.

South Canterbury

Power crews tackle cuts

A firefighter, from the Washdyke station, and a Netcon worker tackle a burning power pole on the Pleasant Point Highway ...

Pleasant Point residents urged to restrict power use as crews work to restore supply.

Ready, set...chomp video

Randy Santel tackles the Gotham burger challenge at the Central Cafe in Geraldine.

US competitive eater polishes off NZ's largest burger in under 10 mins.

Mackenzie blanketed 

Heavy snow is falling in Tekapo.

Snow is still falling in the Mackenzie after a dumping overnight.

Horses scramble to safety

A large tree swept past as the horses huddled for safety.

Horses clung together to dodge tree and debris sweeping towards them in raging flood.

Southland

Stewart Island heritage gets $1m

An artist's impression of the Rakiura Heritage Centre. The centre has received, over $1 million in Government funding to ...

The Government is to commit $1.08m to the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust.

Post-funeral brawl

Police and ambulance were alerted to the incident, but were not eventually required.

A post-funeral gathering in Bluff on Thursday night ended with blood, broken glass and a visit from the police.

Irrigation scheme 'a win-win'

Dairy Creek Ltd director Tim O'Sullivan, Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonker and Pioneer Energy project manager ...

A $10m irrigation scheme near Alexandra, Central Otago, is going to deliver water to about 1800 hectares of barren land.

Gecko stolen from visitor centre

The Marlborough green gecko that was stolen from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.

An at risk gecko has been stolen from the DoC visitor centre in Fiordland.

Ad Feedback