Vic­tims mourned af­ter Levin crash

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF RE­PORTERS

The three young men killed in a fiery car crash in Levin on Sun­day were all from Porirua and were for­mer stu­dents of Aotea Col­lege.

Broth­ers Jesse Si­mon­sen and Shand Cot­grove-Si­mon­sen, and their best friend, Ja­cob Gray, were killed when the car they were in smashed into a parked truck and burst into flames early on Sun­day morn­ing.

As friends and fam­ily con­tin­ued to grieve yes­ter­day, de­tails emerged of a by­stander’s dar­ing ef­forts to pull them from the in­ferno.

Levin woman Karen, who did not want to give her last name, said she would never for­get see­ing her hus­band lean­ing into the flam­ing car, try­ing to pull the men out.

She had been wo­ken by the sound of screech­ing brakes and a thud, and called 111 while her hus­band got dressed and ran out­side.

Once she got out­side, she saw her hus­band try­ing to res­cue the men.

‘‘I was pet­ri­fied for him. He went to the front pas­sen­ger first and opened the door and, un­for­tu­nately, they were de­ceased.’’

Gray and Cot­grove-Si­mon­sen were be­lieved to have been in their early 20s, while Si­mon­sen was 18.

A no­tice on Aotea Col­lege’s web­site yes­ter­day said: ‘‘Our thoughts are with the friends and fam­i­lies of th­ese young men who had so much ahead of them to look for­ward to. Tino aroha nui ki to ra­tou whanau.’’

Friend Lo­gan Walker re­mem­bered Si­mon­sen from their time to­gether at the school, and said the teen had been com­plet­ing a build­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

‘‘He was set­tling down and set­tling into a build­ing ap­pren­tice­ship. He had his head screwed on. ‘‘Gone too soon, for sure.’’ Porirua Mayor Mike Tana said his thoughts were with the fam­i­lies, the Levin com­mu­nity, and those from Aotea Col­lege who knew the trio.

‘‘I to­tally feel for the fam­i­lies. The loss of any life is [tragic], but to lose three peo­ple so quickly just makes it even sad­der.’’

The truck the young men hit was parked on the cor­ner of Cam- bridge St and Macarthur St in front of a yel­low high-vis­i­bil­ity sign, which points for traf­fic to turn left and right on to Cam­bridge St.

Horowhenua Mayor Michael Feyen said the tragedy was hav­ing a big im­pact on the small Levin com­mu­nity.

‘‘Ac­ci­dents at any time are tragic. It doesn’t mat­ter the size of the town, but for a town this size ... three peo­ple have passed away.

’’My thoughts are with the fam­ily and the peo­ple that came across the ac­ci­dent, un­trained peo­ple who saw some­thing ... that changes your life.’’

Flow­ers were placed at the scene of the crash, and three ban­danas hung from a power pole.

The deaths have been re­ferred to the coro­ner.

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Shand Cot­grove-Si­mon­sen and Ja­cob Gray, left, and Jesse Si­mon­sen, above, died in the Levin crash on Sun­day morn­ing.

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