Family left in ditch as gang hoons flee

A group of gang members did a runner from an accident they caused in the Awakino Gorge yesterday, leaving injured members of a family in their crashed car.

The gang members appear to have been racing their two cars – one of them stolen – north through the gorge when they forced the southbound family off the road and into a ditch.

The driver of one of the racing cars lost control and crashed off the highway – but the occupants got out, loaded their luggage into the other vehicle, and took off.

St John ambulance district operations manager Ian May said an 11-year-old boy and two women, aged 37 and 71, in the family's car were taken to Taranaki Hospital yesterday afternoon. "They were extremely lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries or been completely taken out by the other vehicle," Mr May said.

A hospital spokesperson confirmed the 11-year-old boy had been admitted with a fractured leg.

A male passenger of one of the racing cars, a silver Mazda, had been seen limping and could have an injured knee that would need medical attention, Waitara police said.

Police said the family had driven off the road and into the ditch 200 metres north of the Awakino tunnel near a 65kmh corner to avoid an oncoming silver Mazda Sports hatchback which was on the wrong side of the road.

The Mazda crashed and the occupants got out, retrieved their bags and got into a red Caldina station wagon.

The station wagon had been reported stolen, with gang involvement, from New Plymouth earlier in the day and the silver Mazda had been seen in Whanganui the day before. Police did not say what gang the offenders belonged to.

Investigations into the crash would also be carried out in Mangakino, police said. Traffic was reduced to one lane for an hour in the gorge as emergency services dealt with the incident.

Taranaki Daily News