The grieving parents of two siblings killed in Sunday's
horrific car crash are urging young drivers not to drink and
drive, and to always wear seat belts.
Floral tributes to Shannon (22) and Danielle (17) Kiriau
covered the kitchen table at the North Taieri home of
Beverley de Blecourt and Nai Kiriau yesterday.
''They were taught to wear safety belts as babies,'' Mrs de
''Wear your seat belt and don't drink and drive. What more
can you say?'' a visibly upset Mr Kiriau said.
''We want this message to get out there,'' Mrs de Blecourt
About 5am on Sunday came the knock on the door that no family
''I thought it was [the children]. I yelled out, 'Come on in,
the door's unlocked','' Mrs de Blecourt said.
But it was police officers, who told the couple their son, a
front-seat passenger, was dead, and their daughter was in a
critical condition in Dunedin Hospital.
However, the couple were visited by police at Dunedin
Hospital two hours later, and told their daughter had in fact
died at the scene.
Danielle's identity had been confused with that of close
friend and fellow back-seat passenger Courtney Donald (17),
whom the family then had to identify to ensure she was not
''Danielle had just dyed her hair and that's how we knew it
was not her,'' Mrs de Blecourt said.
''They look very similar.''
She felt sorry for Miss Donald's family, who ''were at home
thinking their daughter was dead''.
Mr Kiriau remembered later telling Miss Donald's parents at
the hospital that their daughter ''would pull through''.
She remained in a serious condition in Dunedin Hospital last
Dunedin Clutha Waitaki relieving area commander Inspector
Jason Guthrie said the mix-up was ''terrible mistake''.
''We have apologised to the parents and families involved.
''At the time, there were a number of corroborating factors
that indicated that the information we had received was, in
''Police have confidence that the standard protocols were
followed, but this will be assessed more fully as part of the
The siblings, along with three friends, were in the illegally
modified Honda Integra when driver Cameron Presland (20) -
Miss Kiriau's partner - lost control on a slight bend on the
Police yesterday confirmed Mr Presland held only a learner
licence. Drivers with a learner licence must drive with a
supervisor who has held a valid full New Zealand licence for
two years, is seated in the front passenger seat and who is
responsible for everyone in the vehicle.
Police said speed, alcohol, not wearing seat belts and the
state of the vehicle were all factors in the crash.
Caitlin Adams (16), who along with the other two rear-seat
passengers were not wearing seat belts, was released from
hospital on Sunday.
Insp Guthrie confirmed officers had spoken to the driver, who
remained in hospital for assessment.
''It's too early to say whether any charges will be laid,''
Days before the fatal crash, Mr Presland had swapped his van
for the sedan, which had not passed a warrant of fitness
since early 2012, Insp Guthrie said.
That arrangement also formed part of police inquiries.
Mrs de Blecourt and Mr Kiriau said they were not angry at
police, but Mr Kiriau said he was initially ''pissed off''
after confirmation of the mix-up.
''I had thought Shannon's gone, but at least there is hope
with Danielle still alive.''
Mrs de Blecourt said she took comfort from her son's last
words to her - ''I love you'' - as he left the home to attend
a friend's party at Three Mile Hill along with the others.
The couple felt no animosity towards Mr Presland and had
spoken to his family, ''because at the end of the day the
kids made the decision to go into that car'', she said.
The couple thanked the community for their support. Their
children had both represented Otago in sports - Danielle in
athletics and Shannon in rugby.
The couple were now preparing for their funeral, with
hundreds expected at the service at Coronation Hall, in
Mosgiel, on Friday.