Seven family members, five of them Filipinos including a 10-month old baby, died Sunday in a tragic accident after their van crashed head on with a refrigerated truck near Picton, New Zealand, Philippine Ambassador to Wellington Jesus “Gary” Domingo said.
Two other family members on board the mini-van survived.
“Our condolences and prayers for our kababayans who perished in Picton,” Domingo posted on Facebook.
New Zealand media identified the victims as married couple Paul and Diseree Brown, 61 and 48, and their youngest son, Mark, 14. Diseree’s sister Divine Dolar, 56, and Dolar’s daughter, Divine Flordeliza, 19,
A Taiwanese woman, whose identity was being withheld, died in the accident, along with her daughter Mica, who was barely 10 months old.
The woman is the partner of Diseree’s son, Pedro Clariman, 26, who survived the accident. Another Diseree’s son, Luie Lagud, 16, was earlier in a coma in the hospital in Wellington and still in critical condition after undergoing surgery.
The crash is New Zealand’s deadliest since 2019 and is the worst in the South Island in more than two decades. Pictures taken at the accident site show the van in a crumpled and wrecked state.
The family from Auckland embarked on a land and inter-island sea trip to attend the funeral of their aunt in the town of Gore, south of New Zealand. On their way back to Auckland, they spent the night in Christchurch to a friend’s house, and then left around 2:30am Saturday so they can catch a ferry to the North Island.
They left Dunedin on Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight with a friend in Christchurch before continuing their journey home, leaving at 2.30am yesterday so they could cross the ferry to the North Island.Around 730am Sunday, while at the State Highway 1 towards Picton, the northern town of South Island, their Toyata Hi-Ace van apparently crossed the center line and smashed head-on into a Big Chill truck.
Ambassador Domingo said the Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Wellington are assisting the family.