19 Dec 2012

Community distraught over family's death in crash

3:25 pm on 19 December 2012

The Whakamaru community is devastated over the death of a family of five in a car crash, a local councillor says.

The family, including a three-week-old baby, died when their car left State Highway 32 near Whakamaru and struck a tree.

Forestry workers found the wreckage, which could not be seen from the road, on Tuesday afternoon. The family had last been seen near their home in Whakamaru at 8pm on Sunday night.

The bodies of Lisa Crowley, 23, her partner Richard Melling, 37, and their three children, 11-year-old Jordan Melling, two-year-old Brody Crowley and a three-week old boy, who police believe was yet to be named, were found in the wreckage.

Taupo district councillor and Whakamaru resident Kirsty Trueman told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme she last saw the family a few weeks ago at a community celebration.

"They were so happy. Lisa was due to have her baby the next day and Richard was participating in all the sack races and really getting involved. It was just a real fun day and the children were really happy."

She said the deaths have been devastating for the tight-knit community.

Police say it is not clear when the crash happened and want to hear from anyone who has seen the family or their green Honda Integra since Sunday. They say victim support staff are working in the community.

Father and son killed

Police are also appealing for information about another fatal crash in the same area.

A father and son visiting New Zealand from India died when their car and a truck collided on SH1 near Atiamuri about 1pm on Tuesday.

Dilip Kataruka, 56, and his 19-year-old son Madhav Kataruka, from Jharkhand, had arrived in the country on 10 December to visit family members in Auckland.

The truck driver and a passenger, both from Kaitaia, were treated for minor injuries at Tokoroa Hospital.