Steven Drummond was woken on Saturday night and told his 15-year-old son had died in a car crash – the devastating news delivered by his daughter, who found out via text.
Javarney Drummond was one of five South Canterbury teenagers killed when an overloaded car hit a power pole so hard it cut the vehicle in half.
One of the victims was found in the boot by police. The 19-year-old driver was the only survivor.
The crash, one of the worst in recent history, happened shortly before 7.30pm at the intersection of Seadown and Meadows roads in Washdyke, near Timaru.
Steven Drummond had gone to bed, expecting Javarney would soon return home to have his dinner.
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His son left home late Saturday afternoon and headed to Caroline Bay in Timaru to hang out with friends. One of them was another crash victim, Niko Hill.
Shortly before midnight, Drummond’s daughter received text messages saying Javarney had died in a car crash. She immediately woke her sleeping father.
Drummond rushed to the police station where he says he was told his son may have been in the crash, but to come back in an hour to identify the body at the hospital. None of the victims had identification on them at the time of the crash, he said.
Police suspect speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Some of the teenagers killed were not wearing seatbelts.
The driver suffered serious injuries and was transported to Timaru Hospital, from where he posted an apology to social media on Sunday afternoon.
Jarvarney was a “social butterfly”, Drummond said, but not known to be involved in joyriding. None of his friends had cars, but he’d attended primary school with the driver.
Drummond said the driver, who he knew well, had only had his restricted licence for about three months. He was not angry with him, but disappointed, especially that someone was riding in the boot.
“There’s no point in taking any stress or any anger out on anybody because it’s not going to bring my son back … it’s not going to bring the five kids back,” he said.
The other four teens who died would visit the Drummond house often.
“It’s a huge loss for five families … it’s not something I would wish upon anybody.”
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Niko Hill’s father posted a message on social media on Saturday night, saying he had received a phone call informing him his son had been killed.
“Oh my heart is broken, my one and only,” he wrote.
Aoraki Alternative Education manager Rob Emerson said both Javarney and Niko were alternative education success stories.
Niko had been with the centre for about a year and had started at Timaru Boys’ High School in Term 4 last year.
“It was a massive gain for him to return to school. We gave him a day here and a day there, at school, to get him ready and back into school.”
Javarney was doing really well and “smashing” through his NCEA credits, having completed more than half.
While Javarney had a quiet personality, Niko was larger than life and “in your face”.
“No-one is unaffected by this, it cuts deep. There’s only 20 of us at Aoraki Alternative Education,” Emerson said.
“Their cohort is still with us. It’s a crushing blow.”
Aoraki Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said because Timaru was a very small community, “I am sure this is going to touch a lot of people”.
“It is a tragedy and will reverberate around our community for a long time.
“It’s one of the worst jobs we do.”
He did not want to speculate on the cause of the crash, but said “speed was obviously” a factor, and alcohol may have been involved. Road conditions were not thought to have contributed to the crash.
“It is not possible at the moment to say who was wearing seatbelts, but I think it is pretty clear to say that only a very few, if anyone, were wearing seatbelts.
Gaskin said the driver was “surrounded by family” in hospital on Sunday morning and police were yet to speak to him.
On Sunday, the driver posted a photograph with a message from his hospital bed apologising for his “stupid mistakes”.
“Hello everyone just wanted to say I’m not dead I am very very lucky to still be alive and I can’t believe what has happened and I am so so so sorry to the families that I have put in pain coz of stupid mistakes that I made that has costed 5 lives.”