A family torn apart by a horror crash in rural Canterbury were known in Christchurch for the enormous support they offered other refugees arriving to the city.
Mon Chhetri, 37, and her eight-month-old baby Aron were killed when the car they were in collided with another vehicle at an intersection near Twizel yesterday night.
Her husband, Tula Roo, had been driving and police say early inquiries indicate he pulled out onto State Highway 8 into the path of an on-coming car.
Mr Chhetri and one of the couple's three daughters were seriously injured in the crash. Three occupants in the other vehicle were also hospitalised.
Akash Drukpa, chair of the Bhutanese Society of Christchurch, says he is close to the family as they had lived in the same Nepalese refugee camp before resettling in New Zealand in 2008.
"The life in the camp it's really bad and coming to New Zealand it's such a great thing but something like this has happened, it's really hard for the family and for the community," he told NZ Newswire today.
Mr Drukpa said because the family was one of the first to arrive in Canterbury from Bhutan they paved the way for others and offered enormous support to families settling in the area.
Ms Chhetri was well-known in the community and was "a lovely person, really caring", he said.
Her husband works as a translator and also helps connect refugees with social and education services.
Mr Chhetri underwent surgery overnight and was struggling to cope with the tragedy when Mr Drukpa visited him in hospital today.
"The family was so happy after the baby boy was born," Mr Drukpa said.
"I mean you could see the excitement and then ... it's going to be so hard for Tula Roo and the girls."
Ms Chhetri and Aron are expected to be farewelled at a service in Christchurch tomorrow evening.
Police investigations are continuing into the cause of the crash.