3 Jul 2009

Fatal crash teens may have been racing another car

11:03 pm on 3 July 2009

Police believe teenagers killed in a car crash in Invercargill early on Friday may have been racing another vehicle.

Driver Jesse Langeveld, 19, and passengers Tyler Parry and Ethan Peek, both 16, were killed. The only survivor is in a stable condition in Southland Hospital.

All are believed to have attended Southland Boys' High School.

Police are investigating claims the occupants of a modified Honda Civic were in a contest against another "boy racer" vehicle just before they crashed.

Debris from the Honda Civic was strewn across a carpark after it slammed into the concrete wall of a shop on Leven Street in central Invercargill.

Police believe speed was a factor and that the boys may have been racing another modified vehicle, which stopped to help after the crash.

Emergency services were called about 12.30am on Friday to Leven Street, which is a bypass designed to divert trucks from the inner-city.

St John Ambulance says two young men were dead when their staff arrived and a third died as attempts were made to remove him from the car.

City reeling from deaths - mayor

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt says the city is reeling from the loss of three young lives.

Mr Shadbolt says he thought the city's problem with boy racers was under control and that boy racers had got the message.

The mayor says fed-up members of the public had been "dobbing them in", and the Youth Council had run an educational campaign. Inner-city streets had also been narrowed in places and garden plots installed, to slow traffic.

"We really thought we had it under control."

The Southland Chamber of Commerce says the community is in shock. Chief executive Richard Hay says the boy racer problem in Invercargill has been curbed by a clampdown, high fuel prices and several of the main culprits "maturing".

The Rector of Southland Boys High School says the teenagers involved in the crash were robust and full of life and the tragedy has hit the school community hard.

Ian Baldwin says some of their peers are receiving counselling and lessons around boy racing will be part of a service for the boys if it is found to have caused the crash.