Four Townsville teens killed during horrific crash in a stolen Kia Sorento SUV were not being chased by cops, coroner finds

A coroner investigating the deaths of four teenagers in a ‘horrific’ car crash has made no findings against police but noted a lack of training at the time around sensitivity towards Indigenous families.

Lucius Hure-Hill, 13, Rayveena Coolwell, 14, Cayenne Robertson, 14, and Aaliyah Te Paa, 17, were killed instantly before 4.30am on June 7, 2020 in Townsville, north Queensland.

The Kia Sorento SUV the four teenagers were in had been reported stolen and was being driven by another 14-year-old boy referred to as QTS.

State Coroner Terry Ryan handed down his findings in Brisbane on Thursday following four days of inquest hearings in Townsville in late 2022.

Four members of the dead teenagers’ families attended the court via videolink.

The Kia Sorento SUV (pictured) the four teenagers were in was being driven at a high speed at the time of the crash

Mr Ryan said the Kia was reported to police for ‘hooning’ on the wrong side of the road at speeds up to 130km/h.

‘The driver QTS failed to negotiate a roundabout … he lost control and the vehicle struck a traffic light pole (and) disintegrated on impact,’ he said.

Mr Ryan said QTS survived but the four other teenagers were ejected during the crash and suffered injuries obviously incompatible with life.

‘The (deaths were) caused by the actions of another child. He was a small boy with a significant criminal record,’ Mr Ryan said.

He said the teenagers’ deaths had caused immeasurable harm to their families and he extended his sincere condolences.

A police investigation found Miss Te Paa posted recordings to her Instagram account while she was in the SUV that included the phrase ‘we’re being chased’.

A police unit had spotted the SUV and was following at a distance in an attempt to record its licence plate but officers had not activated their lights and sirens, and had not ordered the driver to stop.

Mr Ryan said the teenagers’ belief that police were chasing them was understandable but they were mistaken as officers followed safety procedures and did not engage in a pursuit when QTS sped away.

‘What (QTS) may have thought was an exciting game of cat and mouse with police ended in the unnecessary loss of life for his four young friends,’ Mr Ryan said.

The officers moved to shield QTS from viewing the dead teens and tried to comfort him as ambulances arrived.

‘The police officers have also suffered ongoing trauma as a consequence of the horrific scene they confronted,’ Mr Ryan said.

He found the subsequent police investigation was comprehensive and professional.

Some of the families of the deceased complained that not all close family members were informed by police of their relatives’ death and this affected their Indigenous traditional grieving process.

Officers had been trained as recruits for culturally appropriate ways to notify family members but had not taken part in a refresher course.

Mr Ryan said the issue was being addressed with additional training and there was no need for a recommendation to be made.

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