Driveway death toddler may have been running to dad

A 23-month-old who died after being hit by a vehicle in the driveway of his South Auckland home may have been running to greet his father.

Te Manawa Whetuki Renata, known as Whetuki, suffered critical injuries when he was hit by a vehicle reversing up his Wentworth Ave,

Papatoetoe, driveway at 6.30pm on Wednesday.

His mother, Emma Renata, was nearby and rushed him to Middlemore Hospital in her car. The little boy's injuries were not survivable and doctors pronounced him dead at 7pm.

It is understood Whetuki was rushing to meet his father, who was arriving home and backing up the driveway towards the house on a back section. Police would not be drawn on the incident details, saying it was too early to speculate about what happened.

"It will take some time for us to form a clear picture of how this tragedy occurred and we aren't able to comment further on the investigation at this time," said Counties Manukau road policing manager Inspector Neil Fisher.

"Police are in the process of interviewing family members and neighbours to determine exactly what happened. It's a distressing and deeply regrettable situation for everyone involved."

It is understood Whetuki's parents are yet to be interviewed.

A Wentworth Ave resident, who did not want to be named, saw Ms Renata holding Whetuki in the driveway near the father's vehicle.

"I heard it ... there was a huge commotion. I was cooking and the television was on but the noise came through over the top of all of that," she told the Herald. "I ran out and leaned over the fence and that's when I saw the little fella ... his mum was holding him ... he was very quiet.

"She was organising somebody to get her car so she could get the wee kid to hospital. It was all over in a couple of minutes, she was gone. As she drove off she screamed at me "look after him", meaning the dad.

"I sat with him ... he was in shock, he just adored that kid. He was holding their little baby. He wouldn't let her go."

The woman was tearful when speaking to the Herald. "I was absolutely devastated. When is this going to stop ... they are just little babies."

Whetuki's family did not want to speak about the tragedy yesterday.

He is the fourth child to die after being hit by a car in a driveway since November.

Child deaths

Four children have died as a result of being hit by vehicles in driveways since November.

Every two weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries after being hit by a vehicle in a private driveway in NZ.

A further five children are killed a year, on average, in the same way.

Most children injured in driveway incidents are toddlers, aged about 2.

- Anna Leask

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