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new zealand crash: boy, 16, fighting for life after 7

New Zealand crash: Boy, 16, fighting for life after 7 family members killed

A close friend of a crash survivor who lose seven members of his family in the horror shunt is holding out hope he’ll return home.

A close friend of a crash survivor who lose seven members of his family in the horror shunt is holding out hope he’ll return home.

Luie Lagud, 16, remains in a critical condition after the crash in Picton on New Zealand’s south island, the New Zealand Herald reports.

The friend and fellow youth group member is also paying tribute to Luie’s brother Mark, saying the pair were like “twins” before the latter’s death on Sunday.

Nine members of the Lagud/Brown family were driving north on State Highway 1 near Picton when their large van collided with a truck travelling south, killing seven in the van and injuring the truck driver.

Married couple Diseree and Paul Brown died, along with their son Mark, 14.

Diseree’s sister Devine Dolar died, along with her daughter Flordeliza Dolar, 19.

Diseree’s eldest son Pedro survived, but Pedro’s partner and 10-month-old baby died.

The group had travelled from Auckland to Dunedin for a relative’s funeral.

Speaking exclusively to the NZ Herald yesterday, Diseree’s son David Lagud, 21, told of his shock at hearing seven members of his family had died “in the blink of an eye”.

A Givealittle page, created today, had already collected more than $17,000.

At last report, Pedro was in a stable condition. He was reportedly able to walk, albeit with difficulty.

The other survivor, Diseree’s son Luie, was in a critical condition.

However, family members said this morning that Luie’s surgery in Wellington Hospital yesterday had gone well.

Back in their hometown of Pukekohe, friends were nervously awaiting news of his condition.

Luie and Mark were members of the Oxygen Youth Pukekohe group, run through the local Elim Christian Centre, of which Diseree and Paul were regular members.

Bailey Booth, daughter of church pastor Darryl Booth, was the youth and children’s pastor and led the group Luie and Mark were part of.

She spoke of how the brothers were near inseparable since they joined about six years ago.

“You didn’t know Mark without Luie and you didn’t know Luie without Mark,” she told the Herald.

“They might as well have been twins.”

Both were joyful boys, Booth, 25, said. Mark was more reserved of the two, while Luie was renowned for his giggling.

The pair were also leaders for the church’s younger members – often managing groups of up to 10 primary school-aged children in activities and games.

Booth described the pair as very reliable and active participants in the various activities the youth group took part in.

The youth group provided a rich environment to forge friendships for the Philippines-born brothers, particularly given more than half the group had not been born in New Zealand.

Learning the pair had been involved in Sunday’s tragic crash was tough to comprehend for Booth and the youth group.

“A lot of them are shocked,” she said.

The news had reached Booth less than 24 hours after her grandmother Ngaire, 81, died in Middlemore Hospital after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Despite losing such a close family member, Booth noted how Mark’s death had hit her just as hard.

“Nan had lived a long life and she was sick and we were ready to let go.

“Then you have Mark and it was far too young, complete accident, no goodbyes – I was almost more shocked about that.”

Booth had immense empathy for Luie, who could face a life without his “twin”, but she was reassured he would be well-supported.

“No one would ever replace Mark but he has, in this church, many brothers here and I’m confident they would step up for him.

“In this time, people can wrestle with what God is in this scenario, how he can let these things happen, but I would say to [Luie], ‘Just come back’, because there’s a whole community and friends who will help him figure out what the next step is.”

With Luie’s future still uncertain, Booth hoped she and the group would get the chance to welcome him home and assist in his recovery.

“I expect all of us to gather around him and cry, not pretend it didn’t happen and then over time, you integrate back into society.”

This article was first published by the New Zealand Herald and has been reproduced here with permission

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