Former restaurateur killed in Rotorua crash

A woman killed in a car crash in between Te Puke and Papamoa on Sunday was the former owner of a Rotorua restaurant.

 Dianne Royce Rickerby, 33, had owned Rendezvous Restaurant & Bar on Hinemoa St. She was a mother of three and had just joined the staff at the new Mitre 10 Mega in the garden centre.

 She died on Sunday. Her son is in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital after being cut free from their wrecked Honda Integra by firefighters.

A teenage boy sitting in the back seat is said to have injuries to his thumb and collarbone.

The two teenagers attend Western Heights High School.

The head of road policing in the Western Bay of Plenty, Senior Sergeant Ian Campion, said crash investigators were completing a scene survey and analysis.

Nigel Gregory, co-founder of Croucher Brewing, told The Daily Post last night he was "absolutely gutted" to hear of Ms Rickerby's death.

He and Croucher Brewing partner Paul Croucher ran the Underground Bar beneath her restaurant when she decided to remove the restaurant's pokie machines and replace it with a bar in 2009.

 "Over the time I ran the bar, I got to know her and her kids very well," Mr Gregory said.

 "It's devastating. She was a young girl who had taken on a massive challenge running her own business, just like Kiwis do, trying to make something for herself.

"At the same time, she was juggling the care of her kids. I didn't envy the challenges she had.

"The last time I spoke to her she had started at Mitre 10 Mega and she was really excited about it.

"It was a new chapter in her life."

The crash happened just after 4pm on Sunday on a corner of State Highway 2, east of Poplar Lane. It involved Ms Rickerby's Honda Integra, travelling towards Tauranga, and a Mazda people mover, headed towards Te Puke.

There were two adults and two children in the Mazda. One of these passengers was also from Rotorua. A 4-year-old in this vehicle broke an arm but has since been discharged from hospital.

- By Alison King of the Daily Post

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