Speed, alcohol factors in fatal Central Otago crash
Speed and alcohol were factors in a crash that killed a teenage car passenger.
Ravineel Avikash Sharma, a 19-year-old apprentice plumber, was killed when the Nissan he was a front-seat passenger in crashed into a tree on Coates Rd in Alexandra, Central Otago, just before midnight on Thursday.
Friends described him as "a quiet achiever" and "lover of life".
The driver, a 19-year-old Ranfurly man, remains in a critical condition in Dunedin Hospital, while the 19-year-old rear passenger received minor injuries and is recovering at home.
Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk, of Alexandra Police, said the crash was "completely preventable".
"Police now have a clear picture of what occurred, and speed and alcohol are significant factors in the investigation. This was a completely preventable crash, which has claimed the life of a young man.
"We have a local family grieving the loss of their son and brother, and our community feeling the loss of one of our local boys from a well-known family. The safety messages in our communities are very clear about the risks when alcohol, speed and young drivers are combined.
"We can only hope that this tragedy helps reinforce the message about the need to keep ourselves our friends and our whanau safe."
Several members of the public had come forward with information about the vehicle's movements immediately prior to the crash, he said.
The investigation into the crash was continuing, with examinations of the vehicle and scene, and interviews with witnesses under way.
A friend, who did not want to be named, said Sharma was "a kind-hearted young man" who would "do anything for anybody in a heart beat".
"He had the best personality and the best memories I've ever had were created with him. My heart's aching for him and his family."
She had known "Rav" since primary school, when he moved to Alexandra nine years ago.
"He just loved life and lived it to the fullest and had no regrets."
Sharma's employer Brent Anderson, of Anderson Plumbing and Drainage, said the teenager had worked for him at his Cromwell-based business for about a month.
"He was a nice young boy. It's such a shame. He was a quiet sort of fella. A quiet achiever . . . I could not fault him."
Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Russell Anderson said accidents like this had "a ripple effect through the community".
"It's a terrible time for those families to deal with the fatality process.
"The vehicle was on its side and hit a tree, so the roof was impacted and compromised the space above the seats."
The car was a family sedan and "wasn't a pocket rocket boy racer type thing".
No other vehicles were involved.
A local resident said the road used to be "a bit of a hang-out" for car enthusiasts, but had not been as much since a few houses had been built on the road.
Kerrisk said police would not release the other victims' names at this stage.
Anyone with any information which may assist the investigation, who have not yet contacted police are asked to ring (03) 440 25000, ext 34400.