Young man who died after alleged hit and run in central Auckland had just visited Britomart nightclub

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The best friend of a teenager who died after an alleged hit and run has told how he had been partying with him at an Auckland nightclub and frantically searched for him before coming across the crime scene.

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He says the pair had been enjoying a night out at Saturdays Britomart when his mate was fatally struck by a vehicle outside the popular downtown spot last weekend.

This week family and close friends said their goodbyes while the victim was on life support at Auckland City Hospital’s intensive care unit.

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They are shattered by the tragedy and struggling to comprehend the senseless loss of a generous and caring person who had just qualified as a plumber and was due to start his first job.

“I just can’t believe he’s not with me.”

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Two teenagers have been charged with manslaughter over the incident, which happened about 2.30am last Sunday near the intersection of Customs St East and Commerce St.

The victim, who has name suppression, had visited the nearby Saturdays nightclub about 1.30am with a group of friends.

His best mate, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the Herald that after waiting in line they had entered the club together.

But he soon realised he hadn’t seen his friend for some time, and that he was not answering calls or replying to text messages.

“I thought something was wrong.”

He left the club and found a crime scene outside cordoned off with police tape.

A police officer showed him a photograph taken on a phone of the victim’s identity card.

“I said, ‘That’s my best friend’.”

The officer then said the victim had been injured and taken to hospital.

The friend said he understood the victim had left the club to chat to people outside the nightclub.

Soon after that the victim was struck by a vehicle which reportedly left the scene.

The victim’s friends travelled to the hospital, and found he had been admitted to ICU. The victim was put on life support so close friends and loved ones could say their goodbyes.

He died on Wednesday.

The friend said he understood the incident had been captured on CCTV and that police were reviewing the footage.

Police have also asked members of the public to provide any dashcam footage taken in the area that night.

The close-knit group of friends were supporting each other in their grief. They were
planning a barbecue and drinks on Saturday night to remember their dead mate.

The pain was raw and they were all still coming to terms with the fact he was gone.

“I just still can’t believe it’s real. I still can’t process it. I just feel like he’s going to be at my door.”

The victim grew up in East Auckland and dropped out of school just over a year ago to study plumbing and was looking forward to beginning his career, the friend said.

“He put everyone else before himself. He made sure everyone else was doing good.

“When I didn’t have a car he let me borrow his car for six months.

“He was the most genuine person you could ever meet. He would give good advice. Just a really good friend.”

The victim’s family are still deciding on funeral arrangements.

The friend said he was close to the family and it was hard seeing them grieving.

“No one should ever be burying their son.”

The young victim was put on life support at Auckland City Hospital but died on Wednesday. Photo / File

Saturdays owner Rod Ballenden said he was aware that people connected to the incident visited the club on the night in question.

The death was an absolute tragedy “and our heartfelt thoughts are with those members of the public involved”.

Police said the vehicle involved left the scene of the incident.

They have now charged two 18-year-olds, a man and woman, with manslaughter.

The woman has also been charged with three counts of assault.

Both were due to appear in the Auckland District Court earlier this week.

Police still want to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or the lead-up to it.

Anyone with information that can assist the investigation can contact police on 105, quoting the file number 220424/0296.

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