Three generations of a Filipino family were killed in a car crash in Picton, New Zealand.
A Filipino-New Zealand family of nine were driving home to the North Island after attending a funeral in Gore when the vehicle they were in collided head-on with a truck near Picton on State Highway 1 at around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Seven of the nine passengers, including the driver and an infant, were killed. The victims included Paul Brown, 61, his wife Diseree, 48, and their 14-year-old son, Mark. Diseree’s sister Divine Dolar, 56, and her daughter Flordeliza Dolar, 19, were also killed, according to the police.
Diseree’s sons Pedro Clariman, 26, and Luie Lagud, 16, survived the crash and were brought to the Wellington Hospital. Luie is reportedly undergoing surgery for injuries to his spine and head, while Pedro is in a serious but stable condition.
Images of the scene show the family’s Toyota Hiace van completely destroyed by the impact of the crash.
Inspector Simon Feltham of the Marlborough police said an investigation is currently ongoing.
“Police can confirm that one of the deceased was the driver of the van at the time of the crash,” Feltham said. “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.”
Auckland Filipino community leader Romy Udanga told RNZ that members of the community in Wellington, including church groups, were on standby to help the two survivors.
“It’s a tragedy really, and the community feels that. There’s oneness in sharing the grief that the family is experiencing, especially at this moment,” Udanga said.
“You spend every spare moment thinking of the what-ifs and the whys,” Bill, a family friend, told Newstalk ZB. “They spent some of their last hours on earth with me on Saturday night, Sunday morning. 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,” he added. “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.”