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From the Sunday News 26th June 2011
When Shana Menary-Colley hopped into a car with two friends on a summer's day, she thought the teen driver was taking them for a ride to the beach. Instead, the journey became a high-speed police chase that ended with Shana and one friend badly injured, their young mate dead and the driver eventually being jailed. Setefano Tonga, 19, had been drinking before he picked up south Auckland friends Shana, 23, Georgina Cherish Stone-Te Haara, 20, and Mamaku Ngaheu, 18.
The 2010 Holden Barina he was driving was stolen, but Shana and Mamaku told Sunday News he had the car's key and told them it belonged to an uncle. The summer's jaunt started to go badly wrong when a police officer approached them at Maraetai Beach, east Auckland, and tried to seize the car. Tonga pushed the officer off and started speeding back towards Auckland. Shana said she and her friends were screaming at him to stop but he told them them to wind up their windows so he could go faster. "We were just freaking out. He still wouldn't stop," she said. "I thought we were all going to die."
Tonga narrowly avoided a head-on crash with a police car when he swerved at one point to overtake cars. It was estimated the Barina reached speeds of up to 180kph during the 20km police chase. Their speed was "off the clock", Shana said. "We couldn't go any faster." When he reached the city, he didn't slow down, speeding through red lights, weaving through traffic and striking glancing blows off other cars. The pursuit, on December 5 last year, ended when the Barina crashed after being stopped by police road spikes at Flat Bush.
Shana says she remembers hitting the spikes with a loud "bang". "I remember hitting the kerb. I remember rolling inside the car – and then I just woke up outside a church." She, Mamaku and Tonga had all been thrown from the car. Shana said that before the crash, Tonga had told the friends to take off their seatbelts as he was going to stop the vehicle to let them out. Georgina was crushed under the car and died from her injuries. A valve was ripped in Shana's heart and six months on, she is still not allowed to exercise or become excited.
Mamaku, who has a 17-month-old daughter, spent a month in hospital. A metal rod was inserted into her fractured spine. She has walked without crutches only since April. Tonga was found to be three-and-a-half times over the legal youth alcohol limit. He was jailed earlier this month for five years, 10 months for manslaughter. At his sentencing, Georgina's father Dion Stone said he and Tonga were now bound together for life. "You end up facing your demons through things like this. I am your demon, Mr Tonga, and you are mine." Tonga was also sentenced for car conversion, drink driving, assault, and unrelated minor offences.
Date of Birth
Manslaughter and driving with excess blood alcohol causing injury to two other young people in December 2010
Was on bail at the time for assaulting his partner in June 2010
Had other convictions for robbery, burglary and car conversion
Sentenced to 5 years 10 months in June 2011
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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