Crash driver still to be determined

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 29/04/2014

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Three Southland farmers were at the pub before being killed in a horrific road crash and may not have been wearing seatbelts at the time, police say.

The three sheep farmers were killed when the Toyota Hilux they were travelling in left the Riversdale-Waikaia Rd and slammed into a bridge before midnight on Friday.

Ewan Christie, 59, Matthew McKee, 39, and Christopher Simpson, 39, all died at the scene, leaving behind young families.

Constable Clint Wright, of Gore, said police were still trying to establish what happened leading up to the crash and whether speed or alcohol were factors. "Early indications were that seatbelts may not have been worn, but police are still working through that."

He confirmed the trio had visited the Waikaia Hotel before the horrific crash, but police were still piecing together exactly when the farmers had been there and how long for, he said.

Autopsies on the trio were carried out yesterday so it was not known if the driver had been drinking. "It will be found through the post mortem what sort of levels of alcohol."

However, it was still unclear who was driving the vehicle at the time, Wright said.

"We are not 100 per cent certain on the actual driver."

Wright said the events of the night were still being established, however it was believed the crash scene was not found for up to an hour after the event.

A local resident driving home came across the fatal scene and called emergency services, he said.

Police were continuing to interview people who were with the trio on the night to try and get a picture of how a night with friends had turned into a tragedy.

Christie is survived by his two sons Victor and Donald; Simpson is survived by his wife Lisa and children Ashton and Tara and McKee leaves behind wife Bex and children Hannah, Harry and Murphy.

 

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