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