3-week-old boy died with four members of his family in a
crash in the Waikato - and may have lain in the wreckage
since Sunday night.
The newborn, who had yet to be given a name, died with
parents Lisa Crowley, 23, and Richard Melling. Ms Crowley's
son Brody, 2, and Mr Melling's son Jordan, 11, were also
Ms Crowley was driving and the baby was in a capsule in the
back of the car.
They were last seen at their home in Whakamaru at 8pm on
Sunday. It is not clear where they went and when they
Post-mortem examinations are to be carried out to determine
whether they died instantly or while trapped in the car.
Food from McDonald's was visible on the front seat of the
wreck, but police had not discovered last night where the
family had travelled to after leaving their home on Sunday.
"Their vehicle appears to have been heading towards
Whakamaru, suggesting that at some stage they had left the
settlement to an unknown destination and were then
returning," said police spokeswoman Kim Perks.
The force of the impact wrapped the car around a tree about
20m from the road.
The wreckage was found less than an hour after emergency
services converged on a crash that killed two Indian
nationals on nearby State Highway 1. They have not been named
because police are still contacting their families overseas.
About 1.05pm a car travelling south towards Taupo and a truck
collided head-on. Both occupants of the car, two Indian males
visiting New Zealand, died at the scene.
The male truck driver and a female passenger, both from
Kaitaia, were treated for minor injuries at Tokoroa Hospital.
As emergency services were attending that accident, two
contractors assessing a forest area on SH32 near Whakamaru
found the car with the Melling and Crowley family inside.
The car is understood to have crossed the centreline before
going down a bank and hitting the tree.
Police had to wait for the Fire Service to finish at the
other crash before the bodies and wreckage could be
A man who lived on the same street as the couple said he
heard them leaving the house on Sunday.
"They went out very early on Sunday morning. I don't know if
it was a holiday or what it was. They left the lights on and
He said he had spoken to police but would not comment
further. Other neighbours refused to speak about the couple
or the crash.
"This is an absolute tragedy; a Christmas in ruins for a
number of families and friends. Our hearts go out to them,"
said police area commander for Taupo Inspector Steve Bullock.
"It is a timely reminder of just how easily lives can be
changed in an instant. I would ask that everyone please
reflect on what has happened today and do everything possible
to ensure that we do not see more lives lost on our roads
over the holidays.
"We don't yet know what caused these particular crashes but
we do know that speed, alcohol, fatigue, inattention and a
lack of restraints are major factors in deaths on our roads.
Please drive to the conditions and to your ability at all
- Nikki Preston, New Zealand Herald