Couple in Christmas horror crash 'fantastic' parents
By Tom McRae with 3 News online staff
Relatives of a family killed in a horrific car crash near Tokoroa have spoken out about their loss.
Lisa Crowley, 23, her partner Richard Melling, 37, and their three children, were found dead inside their mangled vehicle yesterday afternoon.
It is believed the wreckage could have been there since Sunday night.
A trail of debris and five flowers are now all that remain at the scene where the family died.
Relatives gathered at the family home in Whakamaru today to grieve.
Speaking to 3 News, Richard’s aunty, Donna Northcott, described the couple as great parents.
“He was a fantastic father and [Lisa] was a beautiful girl and a wonderful mother,” she said.
“Richard was a lovely boy, he had his faults, he was a bit of a ratbag, but underneath he had a heart of gold, he loved his children. Lisa was the lady of his life.”
Lisa was driving the car at the time of the crash. Her parents Lillian and David Crowley today said they are “devastated” by the loss of their daughter and grandchildren.
Parents were worried before crash
Police don't know the circumstances of the crash – but Ms Crowley’s mother told 3 News they were worried about her. He said she was into drugs, and that as parents they had lost contact with the couple in recent years.
“It's going to be a disastrous time for us,” said Lillian, “I just wish this didn't all happen. It's all a nightmare.”
Despite earlier reports suggesting one of the children – a three-week-old baby – had not yet been named, family members told Maori Television this afternoon the baby was called 'Dylan'.
Engine block thrown from car
Police say four of the five passengers were wearing seatbelts, but the impact looks to have been unsurvivable. It threw the engine block five metres from the car.
Taupo area commander Steve Bullock says police who were called to the scene have been affected by the destruction.
“Something like this realises the darkest fears of each and every one of us. We have friends, we have families, we have children – and to go to a scene like that reminds us all of how vulnerable we are. It's a day, a moment in time, that our staff will never forget,” he says.
The crash was discovered yesterday afternoon.
It's thought the family were heading back home when they crossed the centre line and crashed down the bank. Police are still figuring out exactly when it happened but say it could've been anytime since Sunday afternoon.
“The post-mortems will determine whether they've died instantly or from the effects of it,” says Mr Bullock.
Police are also appealing for information from anyone who saw the family's green Honda Integra in or around the area since Sunday.
Details of second crash nearby
Police have also released more details about a second fatal accident yesterday afternoon.
A father and son visiting from India died when their car collided head-on with a truck on State Highway 1.
“The nature of physics and speed of two vehicles travelling in opposite directions at open road speeds of 100kms, the result is carnage,” says Mr Bullock.
Carnage that families of both accidents are having to come to grips with.
“As difficult as for anybody in the same circumstances, just before Christmas, new baby to be celebrated – [it was] so sudden, just a shock, finding out about it like that,” says Ms Northcott.
It will be a grim Christmas for those left behind.