Son turned down ride with father prior to fatal Central Otago crash

The Sharma family: from left brothers Prashneel and Ravineel, and parents Ratnesh and Santa.
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The Sharma family: from left brothers Prashneel and Ravineel, and parents Ratnesh and Santa.

Less than two hours before Ravineel Sharma died in a car crash, his father turned up to give him a ride home from a night out drinking.

The 19-year-old apprentice plumber from Alexandra 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.

Police say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash, that also left the driver with critical injuries and the rear-seat passenger with minor injuries.

Ravineel Avikash Sharma, 19, an apprentice plumber of Alexandra, was killed when the car he was a front-seat passenger ...
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Ravineel Avikash Sharma, 19, an apprentice plumber of Alexandra, was killed when the car he was a front-seat passenger in crashed into a tree in Alexandra just before midnight on Thursday.

Speaking from his home in Alexandra on Saturday, Ravineel Sharma's parents Ratnesh and Santa were still coming to terms with their son's death.

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"It is so hard, no parent should go through this. It's so difficult. It was a long day yesterday and a long, long night," Santa Sharma said.

The stretch of road where Ravineel was killed in a crash on Thursday night.

The stretch of road where Ravineel was killed in a crash on Thursday night.

Their "nightmare" started at 2am when their youngest son answered a knock at the door. As Sharma came around the corner, she saw the two police officers and heart racing immediately said, "is Rav home?"

Only hours earlier their eldest son texted his father for a ride home from a garage where Ravineel and a group of friends were drinking, Ratnesh Sharma said.

"Ravineel had come home from work and a friend came around - the driver - and picked him up.

"He texted me to pick him up about 10pm. I was going to pick Santa up from the Four Square where she works. I went there and he said, 'go pick Mum first and come back and pick me up'."

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While picking up his wife from work, he received a text from his son saying, "Dad, don't worry, I'll be dropped back by friends".

"So I never went back to pick him up again. I came home then heard a knock on the door at 2am. It was our worst nightmare," Ratnesh said. 

Ravineel had returned to live at home three weeks ago having started a job with a Cromwell-based plumbing company to complete an apprenticeship - time his parents now cherish.

"It was so nice having him home. We didn't have enough time with him though. We are so pleased we had those three weeks," Sharma said.

Ratnesh Sharma moved to Alexandra in 2003 from Fiji where he worked at a resort. He was offered a job by an Alexandra couple who owned a restaurant, and the family decided to take the opportunity and move. Santa and their boys followed Ratnesh 14 months later.

"Ravineel turned six when we came to New Zealand. He had most of his life here. He was always on the go. He was just a bubbly kid who always had lots of friends."

Ravineel played football, was learning karate and had recently taken up snowboarding.

"Anything he wanted to do, he did. He was a hard worker and always looked after his money and bought things. He was a very polite kid."

The parents said they were not angry with the driver, who had grown up with their son.

"We feel sorry for them too. They were good school friends who grew up together. At that time of the night they should not be on the road anyway, both of them had work in the morning.

"If something good comes from it, we hope young people learn a lesson and don't make the wrong decisions.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the community and emergency services for their overwhelming support."

A service will be held at the Dunstan High School gymnasium at 1.30pm on Sunday.

 - Stuff

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