Tributes flow for charismatic crash victim

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012
Cheyenne Smith-Grey
SAD LOSS: Cheyenne Smith-Grey was killed in a fiery car crash on Thursday.

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Family and friends are grieving the death of "charismatic" 17-year-old Cheyenne Smith-Grey, who was killed in a fiery car crash on Thursday.

Adele Norman, 22, and Maria Taitoko, 25, visited Cheyenne's central Hamilton home yesterday after hearing of her death.

They became close friends with her while studying beauty therapy at the South Pacific Islands Institute in Frankton.

Cheyenne was due to graduate next week, they said, and she had her sights set on furthering her skills at Waikato Institute of Technology.

Between tears, they recalled a bubbly, adventurous girl who was getting her life on the right track.

"It's such a waste," Ms Norman said.

"She wasn't just going to be a girl on the benefit bumming around all her life. She had aspirations. She wanted to do things. She had a personality that could have made a difference.

"She was a pretty lovable girl - there wasn't a lot not to like about her."

When Cheyenne walked into a room there was a "vibe", Ms Norman said.

"We've lost a bright spark. This vibrant, bright spark who was going somewhere."

The pair said she was extremely close to her family, especially her father and brother.

A "Rest Easy Cheyenne Smith-Grey" facebook page was set up yesterday and tributes flowed. Police yesterday released further details of the crash that took Cheyenne's life, alongside a plea for drivers to stick to the basics and realise that nothing is so urgent that it justifies putting lives at risk.

District road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said Cheyenne was the front seat passenger in a Mazda Lantis car that lost control on Duck Rd west of Hamilton about 4.25pm.

The Waikato Serious Crash Unit is still investigating, but Mr Tooman said initial indications were that the 18-year-old male driver failed to negotiate a bend and lost control, leaving the road and hitting a raised farm driveway over a culvert. Cheyenne was thrown from the car and died at the scene from her injuries, Mr Tooman said.

Police are investigating whether speed or alcohol played a part.

The driver suffered moderate injuries, while two others in the car, an 18-year-old male and a 16-year-old female, were unhurt but treated for shock.

Police are calling for witnesses to the crash, or the Mazda's movement beforehand.

Meanwhile, a 47-year-old woman died in Waikato Hospital overnight Thursday from injuries sustained in a fatal crash at Taupiri last week.

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She was a passenger in the car being driven by 43-year-old Margaret Kingi, who died at the scene.

The Serious Crash Unit is awaiting forensic analysis to determine if speed and-or alcohol were factors in that crash. Her death takes Waikato's road toll to 40.

- Waikato Times

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