Teenager fights for life after hit by car

A teenage girl fighting for her life in hospital was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by a man she knew outside the country school where she lived.

The 17-year-old was hit by a vehicle at about 3.30am yesterday on State Highway 33 near Rotorua and was rushed to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition.

The teen, who underwent surgery yesterday for "significant injuries", is understood to be a former pupil who lives on site with her mum.

Her mother is believed to be the caretaker, teacher aide and a former board of trustees member at Whangamarino School, and her family are well known around the school.

Police confirmed yesterday evening they had arrested a 19-year-old man who was known to the victim.

He was charged with driving with excess breath alcohol, careless driving causing injury and driving while suspended and will appear at Rotorua District Court tomorrow.

Teachers and parents at the school spoken to by the Sunday Star-Times did not know the man.

Police set up tents over the highway and a blue tarpaulin marked the spot by the side of the road where the teen was hit.

The road was closed for about 10 hours and staff at the Okere Falls Store said they had been told that investigators from Wellington had been called to the scene.

Dozens of police markings were placed on the steep driveway leading to Whangamarino School, a few metres from the scene, and forensic investigators in protective clothing combed the roadway looking for evidence.

After the roadblocks were removed, a female police officer helped a distraught teenage girl, believed to be the victim's younger sister, take bedding from the school house to a waiting police car.

School trustee member Cath Karakia said she had last seen the 17-year-old at a school gala day on Thursday and it was sad to think something so tragic could happen by the school.

A teacher, who did not want to be named, said the situation was "terribly sad".

"She's a really nice girl," she said.

School principal Rawiri Wihapi said it was heartbreaking to know members of the school community were going through such a difficult time. He planned to visit the hospital to show his support.

Sunday Star Times