Nine people were in the van and seven of them, including an infant, were killed “in the blink of an eye.”
Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic details of injuries that may be distressing to readers.
A van carrying nine people collided head-on with a refrigerated truck, killing seven members who were part of one family from Auckland in New Zealand, including a baby who was under a year old. According to UNILAD, the victims included Paul Brown, 61, his wife Diseree Brown, 48, and their son Mark, 14. Diseree's sister Divine Dolar, 56, and Divine's daughter Flordeliza Dolar, 19, were also killed.
Diseree’s sons Pedro Clariman, 26, and Luie Lagud, 16, survived the crash but Pedro's wife and their daughter Mika, who was between nine and ten months old, passed away. The two survivors from the van remain in the hospital, one in serious condition and one in serious but stable condition. Luie had undergone surgery and was in a coma.
The accident is considered to be the deadliest crash on New Zealand roads since April 2019. The family was returning home after attending a loved one’s funeral when the crash occurred.
"You spend every spare moment thinking of the what-ifs and the whys. They spent some of their last hours on earth with me on Saturday night, Sunday morning," family friend Bill told Newstalk ZB Canterbury Mornings host John MacDonald, according to NZ Herald. "This was a vibrant family - my friend was a high school teacher ... his wife started an online business and he was really proud of her. They had four boys and girls ... One of the boys had married a Taiwanese young lady and it was their baby that died. I was really taken with this young woman, she was so nice and it really hits home at my heart that she's gone and the baby's gone. Her husband survived … he's going to wake up and find that he's now alone."
David Lagud, 21, told NZ Herald that his brother was recovering but is in complete shock after hearing his partner and child were dead. "He was devastated, he was crying a lot. Both of his loves are gone."
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The truck driver suffered minor injuries. Inspector Simon Feltham, Marlborough police area commander, shared, "Police can confirm that one of the deceased was the driver of the van at the time of the crash. As such, the matter will be referred to the Coroner in due course. Police's focus remains on gathering information to assist the Coroner, and on supporting the victims in this crash and our first responders."
According to 9 News, Acting Tasman district commander Inspector Paul Borrell described the incident as "absolute carnage". "In a blink of an eye, seven lives are gone," Borrell told media outside Blenheim police station. "A crash of this scale has a huge impact on both the community where it happens, that of the deceased's family and community, and on emergency services who attend."
Representational Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Jasmin Merdan