Who was driv­ing when Hemi died?

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

Two years have passed since hitch-hiker Hemi Ra­paea was found dead in a crashed car on a Hawke’s Bay high­way, but the driver who fled has never been found.

Ra­paea, 62, had been hitch­hik­ing north of Dan­nevirke when he was given a ride to­wards Hast­ings in a sil­ver Ford Fair­mont. At around 3.15am on March 10, 2016 the car veered off the road just north of Te Aute Col­lege on State High­way Two.

It crashed into bushes, flipped on its roof and then landed back on the road.

The driver fled the scene and could not be found by po­lice.

Now po­lice have made a re­newed bid to find the driver, with the crash fea­tur­ing on the Po­lice Ten 7 TV pro­gramme on Thurs­day.

Sergeant Cory Ubels, of­fi­cer in charge of the Se­ri­ous Crash Unit in Hawke’s Bay, was hop­ing view­ers will help with in­for­ma­tion iden­ti­fy­ing the driver.

Ubels said ev­i­dence sug­gested two ve­hi­cles were trav­el­ling in con­voy.

‘‘This has been a long and com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion for which Mr Ra­paea’s griev­ing wha¯nau need an­swers. I’m hop­ing that with the pas­sage of time, peo­ple who have in­for­ma­tion about the crash and the driver’s iden­tity, will be prompted to come for­ward and tell us what they know,’’ he said.

Ra­paea was found dead in the front pas­sen­ger seat.

A truck driver re­ported see­ing a white Toy­ota sta­tion­wagon stop nearby af­ter the crash be­fore it drove off.

Fol­low­ing the crash po­lice said the car had been sold re­cently and the reg­is­tered owner was not a sus­pect.

Wit­nesses who ar­rived on the scene straight af­ter the crash had come for­ward.

Ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gested the driver fell asleep, as no eva­sive ac­tion ap­peared to have been taken once the car left the road.

A death no­tice for Ra­paea said he was a cher­ished father, son and lov­ing part­ner.

‘‘Loved father of all his eight chil­dren. Adored Koro to all his 25 Mokos. Lov­ing Brother and Un­cle to all his Nieces and Neph­ews,’’ the no­tice said.

STUFF

The fa­tal car crash at Te Hauke, SH2, near Hast­ings on March 10, 2016. In­set, Hemi Ra­paea.

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