Crash victims come home
Quiet time for police
A morning of tragedy has left two South Waikato families mourning the loss of three young men killed on opposite sides of Australia on New Year’s Day.
Within hours of celebrating New Year’s Eve, former South Waikato men Tosh Kupa, 17, and Trydin Te Aonui, 19, were dead – as was Mr Te Aonui’s cousin Lance Hirawani, 28, who was visiting from New Zealand.
Tosh was killed as he walked home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends on the Rockingham foreshore, in Perth.
His body was found on the side of the road after he was hit by a passing car and apparently left for dead. Some passing young men found him and tried to help, but he died soon after.
The owner of the car initially told police his car had been stolen and he had not been driving, but he has since been charged with failing to stop, failing to report an accident and creating a false belief.
Tosh’s Auckland-based grandmother, Georgina Kupa, said that Tosh, who grew up in Tokoroa, moved to Perth with his family, including three brothers and a sister, in January 2007.
She said Tosh was a unique child – a ‘‘gentle giant’’.
Tosh’s body is expected to be returned to New Zealand this week. He will be buried at Whakaaratamaiti Marae in Putaruru.
Just hours before Tosh’s death, cousins Mr Te Aonui and Mr Hirawani were killed after the car they were passengers in crashed at speed in Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane.
The driver, an 18-year-old cousin of the dead men, was taken to hospital with severe head injuries.
The bodies of Mr Hirawani and Mr Te Aonui have been returned to Tokoroa and are lying in state at Papa-o-te-Aroha Marae.
The return of the local men came after an appeal to raise funds to bring their bodies home. Acting police Senior Sergeant Brett Watene said the New Year was a relatively quiet one for the South Waikato. Police made four arrests over the new year period and attended five domestic violence-related incidences.
Mr Watene said that drink driving was well down, with only two drink drivers caught after police carried out extensive testing over the festive period – more than 200 drivers.
‘‘Although this is a low number and people seem to be getting the message, this is still two too many drunk drivers on our roads,’’ Mr Watene said.
During the holiday road toll period there were zero fatalities on South Waikato roads.
Police also visited local establishments throughout the district and were pleased that people were drinking responsibly and license holders are being responsible hosts.
‘‘We made a number of visits to local establishments during the festive season and police would like to congratulate the local bar owners and patrons for being responsible.
Police would also like to thank Whakamaru Motorcamp campers who were very well behaved.’’
Mr Watene would also like rural home owners to be vigilant and security conscious, especially between milking times, after a spate of rural burglaries.
PATIENT REWARDED: Former Tokoroa woman Claire Chapman’s accident turned into a celebration at Waikato Hospital’s emergency department. Mrs Chapman is photographed with associate charge nurse manager Anne Koppens.