Teens' journey 'doomed from the start'
Police have condemned the behaviour of seven teenagers who crammed into a small car for a ride home after a drinking session north of Auckland.
On Friday at 11pm, after drinking at a local reserve off State Highway 16, south of Wellsford, a group of students packed into a Toyota Corolla to head home, police said today.
Seven teenagers aged between 15 and 17 got into the hatchback designed for only five people, with two sitting in the luggage compartment.
"This was a journey that was doomed from the start," Inspector Mark Fergus, Waitemata Road Policing Manager, said.
The 17-year-old driver, who had no licence, soon lost control on a moderate bend and crossed the centre line before crashing into a ditch.
The car came to rest on its roof and the force of the impact saw the two teens in the luggage compartment thrown from the car, he said.
They were flown to hospital with life-threatening injuries and remained in a critical condition. Three other occupants suffered broken bones in the crash.
Fergus said the incident provided a timely reminder for parents to open a dialogue with their children about phoning home if they found themselves in a dangerous position.
"It's about them saying 'if you ever get into trouble, give me a call'," he said.
The variables involved in the crash meant it was destined to be a tragedy, Fergus said, but it might only have taken one of the teens speaking out to avert it.
"A young, unlicensed driver, in charge of a severely overloaded vehicle, on a dark country highway was never going to end well," Fergus said.
"Every teenager that got into that car made their own decision.
"Any one of them could have stopped the chain of events that led to their friends being left with life-changing injuries, by deciding to not get in the car and insisting that they contact someone to come and get them."
The Waitemata Serious Crash unit is investigating the incident.
Police said it was too early to say whether charges will be laid but suspected alcohol was a factor in the smash.