Family mourns as fourth son killed

The car crashed into a bedroom vacated just hours before. Photo / Greymouth Star
The car crashed into a bedroom vacated just hours before. Photo / Greymouth Star
A West Coast family have been left devastated after losing the last of four sons at the weekend, with all of the young men being killed in tragic circumstances.

Judd Hall, 26, was settling in for a quiet Friday night at home when mates swung by his Runanga house and persuaded him to go to a party.

Shortly afterwards, he was killed when the car he was travelling in was involved in a brief police pursuit before it smashed at speed into a Greymouth home.

Mr Hall, a back seat passenger, died.

The driver was impaled in the abdomen by a piece of wood, while the other passenger suffered internal injuries. They are both in hospital in a stable condition.

Police say the car was travelling up to 140km/h in a 50km/h zone.

It had been travelling so fast when it left the road, that it caused the front of the house to implode and the roof to destabilise.

"The sound of the crash was like a bomb going off - half the town heard it," one local said today.

Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, police say.

Now, parents Joe Hall and Rick 'Rowdy' Durbridge are struggling to come to terms with the fourth such tragedy to strike their male children.

Step-son Dan Herk, 36, was killed in the Pike River coal mining disaster of November 2010. Joe Hall had raised him from about the age of 14, family told APNZ today.

In 1990, the couple's 7-year-old son Jessop died in a car crash caused by a drunk female driver in Motueka on Mother's Day, and Brett, 19, died a few years later in a fall in Auckland.

Mr Durbridge and Joe Hall, who have two surviving daughters, are now mourning the death of a fourth son.

"Judd was the biggest character ever, with the biggest heart. He'll be so missed - he already is," said one family member, who did not wish to be named.

Judd Hall's many mates remembered a larger-than-life character and a "Runanga legend".

Joe Hall said Judd - who was completing a diploma in information technology - was in his pyjamas when his friends turned up outside the house and persuaded him to come out.

"There's been comments about him being out partying but that is not the case at all," she said.

"He was ready for bed and had just gone down the shop for some Powerade and Skittles when his mates turned up at 10.45pm and invited him to a party in Kumara. It was just bad luck that he went."

Joe Hall said she had "serious concerns" about the police pursuit.

"When the police told me about the crash they didn't even mention a pursuit. They said there was crash after they had been racing and then I read in the paper about a pursuit which, like always, they say was called off before the crash."

West Coast police area commander John Canning said it was a 10-second pursuit. The patrol car did not have its siren on, but its lights were flashing.

"It's not rocket science," he said.

"It's a tragic case where one man is dead simply because they thought better, and weren't prepared to stop, and made a very poor decision."

A post-mortem examination was carried out in Christchurch yesterday.

An examination of the crash scene was completed on Saturday and investigators are continuing to interview witnesses and people in the area.

 

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