'We've all lost a part of ourselves'

Shannon Kiriau
Shannon Kiriau
Kiriau family members are ''raw'' as they plan funerals for the brother and sister killed in a high-speed crash on the Southern Motorway on Sunday.

Danielle Ngametua Kiriau (17) and Shannon James Kiriau (22), of Mosgiel, died when the Honda Integra car in which they were passengers went out of control and crashed on the Southern Motorway in Dunedin on Sunday morning.

The 20-year-old male driver of the car yesterday remained in a stable condition in the high dependency unit in Dunedin Hospital and a 17-year-old female passenger was in a serious condition in the intensive care unit.

A 16-year-old female passenger had been discharged from Dunedin Hospital.

A close friend of the Kiriau family, who did not want to be named, said the family members were feeling ''raw'' yesterday and had asked for privacy.

''Everyone is just really numb and trying to come to terms with the fact these guys are gone and we are not going to see them again.''

Danielle Kiriau
Danielle Kiriau
The deaths had resulted in the loss of a son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew and, for many, a best friend, she said.

There was an incredible sense of loss among the ''close-knit'' circle of family and friends.

''We've all lost a part of ourselves with these guys.''

Both siblings were ''outgoing'' but Danielle was the more ''bubbly'' of the two, she said.

''She lived life to its fullest. So did Shannon, but he was just a bit quieter.

''But once he let you in he wasn't letting you go - he was that type of boy.''

The family wanted to thank the community in Mosgiel and the surrounding districts for its support, she said.

''Mosgiel, and all of us mums, stick together. We are one big family and we all look after our kids.

''To all of us they were our extended family; they were our kids.''

The family was organising the funerals and she hoped the children had time to grieve before parents had conversations about making better decisions.

''Right now, it's about giving love and support, and not bad attitudes, because we can all deal with the after-effects - the drinking, the driving - after we've got through this. Right now it's about protecting our young people and giving them the love and support to get through.''

Acting Southern road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking said the crash highlighted that road safety messages were not getting through to some young people.

''Young people are not getting the message about the dangerous mix that alcohol, not wearing safety belts and driving at speed can create.''

The crash was a tragic reminder that young people needed to have the courage to speak up and say 'No' when they were in dangerous and unsafe situations, he said.

''All of us can have a part to play in influencing our young people to make the right choices and the right decisions.

''If you're in a vehicle and you and friends feel unsafe, have the courage to speak up and ask the driver to stop the car and let you out.''

The best time to make a choice was before getting in a vehicle, he said.

''Don't get into a car if you know or think the driver's been drinking.

''Give a friend or family member a call to give you a lift home, or catch a taxi.

''Any parent would prefer that their child gives them a call, rather than take a risk which could result in serious or tragic consequences.

''None of us are bulletproof.''

Snr Sgt Larking said police would conduct a full investigation.

The driver, who was from Otago but not Dunedin, had been spoken to. It was too early to determine whether he would be charged.

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