Couple lose fourth son to tragedy

Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014
Judd Hall
TRAGIC: Judd Hall, 26, died in a Greymouth car crash on Friday night.
Dan Herk
GONE: Dan Herk, 36, died in the Pike River coalmine explosion in November 2010.

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Rick "Rowdy" Durbridge fears he might be cursed.

Durbridge and Joe Hall have lost the last of four sons, all of them killed in tragic circumstances.

Judd Hall, 26, died when the speeding car he was a rear passenger in smashed into a house in Greymouth on Friday night.

In 1990, their son Jessop, 7, was killed by a drunken female driver in Motueka on Mother's Day.

A few years later, Brett, 19, died in a fall in Auckland and the Pike River coalmine explosion in November 2010 claimed another son, Dan Herk, 36.

At their Runanga home yesterday, the couple, who have two surviving daughters, said they felt almost hardened to grief and questioned why their close-knit family had suffered so many losses.

Durbridge admitted he felt cursed.

"I do. Look at the picture."

Hall feared her past was to blame.

"I don't feel cursed myself because I have blessings but I do often wonder: Are some parts of my life because I made the wrong choices?

"There's some cynical element punishing me for them. I don't believe it's God because I do believe God loves me. I don't know."

Judd Hall moved home last September after flatting in Cobden and re-enrolled a few weeks ago at Tai Poutini Polytechnic to complete a diploma in IT, which he started a few years ago but pulled out for personal reasons.

On Friday night, he enjoyed homemade fish and chips with his mother and had planned to stay home for the night.

He was in his pyjamas when his two friends called him about 10.45pm offering to take him to a party in Kumara.

They were already parked near his house so he changed and joined them. His mother wished him a fun night out before he departed.

About half an hour later, he was dead.

Police turned up at their home about 2.30am on Saturday to break the terrible news.

Joe Hall said they failed to mention that the crash happened during a police pursuit.

Instead, Durbridge heard about it on the radio news about 7am on Saturday.

West Coast area commander Inspector John Canning said on Saturday that a police constable standing outside his patrol car on High St saw a white Subaru station wagon speed past and decided to chase it south, but the brief pursuit covered only about 600 metres to 800m, lasting about 10 to 15 seconds.

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Witnesses estimated the car's speed was about 140kmh in the 50kmh zone.

The driver lost control around a sweeping bend beside the hospital and overcorrected, ramming into an unoccupied wooden house.

The driver was impaled in the abdomen by a piece of wood and taken to the intensive care unit at Greymouth Hospital. The third person in the car was admitted to hospital with punctured lungs. They are both in a stable condition.

Hall said her son was a "nana driver" and would have been telling his friends to slow down.

She had met the pair, both in their 20s, a few times and wanted to visit them in hospital, particularly to thank the surviving passenger for telling emergency services at the crash scene that Judd was still inside the car.

"They would have found him in the end, but to me it was really important that his pulse was taken.

"I'm grateful to him for that."

Judd's funeral will be held at the Catholic Church in Runanga, but a date is yet to be set.

- The Press


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