Police sorry for fatal crash identity mix-up

Police say information from one of the crash victims led to the incorrect identification. Photo...
Police say information from one of the crash victims led to the incorrect identification. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin police say a ''difficult and confusing'' accident scene was behind a mistake that resulted in a family being wrongly told their daughter had died in Sunday's fatal motorway crash.

But a close friend of the family that lost two children in the crash says the family is ''devastated'' after being originally told one had died - then discovering they had lost both.

''I don't think any amount of apologies will fix that.''

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 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 16-year-old female passenger was discharged from Dunedin Hospital.

Courtney Donald (17) was in a serious condition in the intensive care unit.

The family of Ms Donald was originally told she had died in the crash, while the family of Danielle and Shannon were told only Shannon had died.

The friend, who asked that her name not be used, said Danielle and Shannon's mother Beverley De Blecourt was ''not very happy at all'' about the mistake.

''Everyone is devastated.''

Dunedin Clutha Waitaki Acting Area Commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said the crash scene was difficult and confusing with multiple victims.

''Information received from other victims of the crash incorrectly identified one of the females being treated (Courtney Donald) as the young woman who had in fact tragically died at the scene (Danielle Kiriau).

''Unfortunately this information was passed on to the parents of both Danielle Kiriau and Courtney Donald.''

Insp Guthrie said that was based on information received, and ''a range of other circumstances at the scene which led police to believe that the victims had been correctly identified''.

He said police staff who attended the scene undertook a range of inquires to cross-reference information from witnesses with evidence located at the scene in order to have confidence that the identifications were accurate.

''As soon as the mistake was realised, police took immediate steps to correct it.''

Insp Guthrie said police staff involved were ''very upset about the fact that this has occurred''.

''We have apologised unreservedly to the parents and family for this mistake, and appreciate how traumatic it would have been for them to receive this incorrect information.