Four teenagers have been killed in a car crash after the ute they were in slammed into a concrete truck in the rain in New Zealand’s south.
All four went to the same school and three of them lived within a couple of streets of each other before the fatal crash in Invercargill on the nation’s South Island.
Konnor Steele, Indaka Rouse and Kyah Kennedy were all aged 16 and all from the town of Bluff, while fellow occupant O Maruhuatau Otuwhare Tawhai, 17, was from Invercargill.
The young men were in a Ford Ranger ute when it hit a concrete truck on an inner city road marked 50km/h in wet conditions.
Harrowing footage showed members of the public frantically climbing over the wreckage and using a crowbar to break into the ute to save the boys.
O Maruhuatau Otuwhare Tawhai (pictured top left), 17, Kyah Kennedy (pictured top right), 16, Konnor Steele (pictured bottom left), 16 and Indaka Rouse (pictured bottom right), 16, all died when the ute they were in crashed into a concrete truck on Friday
Horror scene: The crime scene after the fatal accident which killed four schoolboys (supplied with permission by the NZ Herald)
‘Hang in there, mate,’ one man could be heard saying in the footage, according to New Zealand Herald.
The driver of the truck climbed out the window and walked away in shock.
Police are still investigating the circumstances, which wasn’t far from where one of the boys lived.
Community Board chair Raymond Fife said the tragedy has had a ‘big effect’ in Bluff, which is the most southerly community in mainland New Zealand.
‘These are well-established families in Bluff, cousins, grandparents, brothers and sisters that live in the town.
‘So it has a big effect on the community, definitely,’ he told the publication.
Mr Fife has been in contact with some relatives of the boys. ‘They are hurting a lot,’ he said.
‘They’ve got a lot of family in the town and they’ve got a lot of family support. That’s helping them get through this grieving period. They’re lucky in that respect.’
Some family friends have started online fundraisers for two of the boys, while others left tributes to them on social media.
A Givealittle page for Indaka Rouse’s mum Aleisha had raised almost $10,000 by Monday morning.
‘Indaka was a much loved son, brother, friend and family member to all who loved him,’ the friend who set up the page wrote.
‘As his mum and his family grieve for the loss of their son, we would like to be able to raise some funds in order to ease some financial strain so that his mumma can take some time to be with his brothers and sisters and grieve.’
One contributor wrote that it was ‘Nothing any parent should have to go through. An unimaginable thing. Thinking of you.’
Another said they ‘Can’t even begin to imagine your pain at this time. My sincerest condolences for such a colossal loss. My thoughts are with you.’
Family members of Konnor Steele, Indaka Rouse, Kyah Kennedy and O Maruhuatau Otuwhare Tawhai – teenagers who were all killed in a crash on Friday – visit the scene
A friend of O Maruhuatau’s family who set up their Givealittle page said he was a ‘young beautiful, talented, caring and cheeky man (who) has been stolen, and hearts are suffering.
‘In an instant his (family’s) world was changed. Their hearts broken.’
The Demons and Port Softball Club in Southland paid tribute to Kyah on Facebook, saying he was a ‘talented teammate and a fierce competitor’.
‘He was a natural athlete and a pleasure to be around, the Demons Club were thankful to him for joining us at various Club Champs Tournaments over the years …
‘You have been a part of our club for so long and we are just overstruck with sadness that you’re now flying high with the angels.’
The boys were all former students of Southland Boys’ High School.
The school’s rector Simon Coe said: ‘Our thoughts are with the grieving families and we have reached out to them …
‘We are saddened by the loss of four young men who had a life of potential ahead of them.’