Grandmother of driver who killed woman during pursuit apologises

The grandmother of a man who killed an innocent woman after crashing during a police chase has apologised for what happened.

Three people were killed when the car 25-year-old Johnathon Tairakena was driving crashed into 53-year-old Carmen Yanko as she drove to Nelson's Sunday Market.

The Tairakena whanau gathered on Tuesday to remember him - a man they affectionately knew as Jon Jon.

Mavis Tairakena is mourning her moko's death, and she's also distraught for the whanau of Phillip Stretch, who was the passenger in the car.

But most of all, she wants to say sorry to the family of Carmen Yanko - the innocent victim who was killed in the crash.

"I haven't met her family, but maybe one day I will," she said.

"[I'm] just so sorry for what my grandson's done. I dunno... I will say sorry in my own heart, [for] what he's done."

Yanko's family have asked for privacy, saying they are heartbroken from what they call a "senseless tragedy".

Tairakena's grandmother says she cannot understand why her grandson fled police.

"I just couldn't believe it, for him to do a thing like that - I couldn't believe it."

Tairakena has a seven-month-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.

"I'm gonna miss my grandson... He's always got smiles and everything, always smiling at me," she said.

"He was always smiling, always have that cheeky smile sometimes - but he was a good grandson."

His sister Arleea Tairakena says the 25-year-old fruit picker used to drive her to school when everyone else had to walk.

He was her favourite brother and she feels "broken".

Like her grandmother she just can't explain events that led to the three deaths.

Police have confirmed that they were not actively searching for Tairakena or Stretch before they tried to stop their vehicle, but they would not give any further update today.



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