'Kind-hearted' pupil's death devastates school

SEAMUS BOYER
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Grace Diedrichs
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KIND-HEARTED: Grace Diedrichs.

wilton rd 1
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ Zoom
The scene of a crash involving a car and a train on Wilton Rd between Carterton and Masterton in which one person died and another was seriously injured.

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School friends and teachers of a "kind-hearted wee soul" killed in a train collision say they are devastated by her death.

Grace Diedrichs, 15, from Carterton, died when the ute she was in collided with a passenger train in Wiltons Rd at 8.10am on Sunday.

The year 11 St Matthew's Collegiate student was flung from the crumpled vehicle.

Police say Jonathan Painter, 17, of Pahiatua, tried to brake before the uncontrolled crossing but struck the train, puncturing a fuel tank. The impact crushed the ute's bonnet and passenger side, sending it spinning off the road.

Jonathan suffered head injuries and is in a serious condition in Wairarapa Hospital.

Yesterday Grace's principal Erik Pedersen said the school was devastated by her death.

"Grace was an open, friendly and lovely member of the school, excelling in all aspects of school life. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the family."

The school's swimming sports, due to be held on Sunday, were postponed after the news was broken to stunned students.

Mr Pedersen said the school held a service for Grace and was offering counselling to those affected by her death.

Tributes to Grace have also flowed online, with a Facebook page attracting more than 1100 followers. Mourners wrote of a "beautiful young girl" whose energy "always made everyone around you happy". Another wrote: "You were such a kind-hearted wee soul."

Senior Sergeant Carolyn Watson said Jonathan had surgery on Monday night for a badly fractured skull. His injuries were not considered life-threatening and he was now recovering in hospital.

An investigation into the crash was likely to take weeks as there were "several elements" to be looked at, she said.

A celebration of Grace's life will be held at St Matthew's Anglican Church in Masterton at 2.30pm on Friday, followed by a private cremation.

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- The Dominion Post

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