Four people are dead after a two car head-on crash on the main road just north of Gisborne last night.
One of the fatalities was 33-year-old mother of four, Serena Smith from Whatatutu.
She was the only person in an Odessa van on her way to her parents home in Whatatutu from Gisborne after being the sober driver for the night for one of her friends.
She collided head on with a Ford explorer vehicle travelling towards Gisborne just after 9.15pm.
Gisborne Police Senior Sergeant Moera Brown said the community of Whatatutu was in distress over the tragedy.
The other three people who died were in the Ford Explorer which caught fire after the impact.
The driver of this vehicle is a 59-year-old man who is in a stable condition in Gisborne Hospital.
All occupants of the ford explorer were from Putaruru and were travelling to Gisborne to visit family.
They have a large and extended family in various parts of the North Island who are in a state of shock
Snr Sgt Brown said people who arrived at the scene attempted to try and help the people in the burning vehicle but were unsuccessful in being able to release their seat belts before the fire took hold.
Police will need forensic examinations to establish the identity of the three passengers from the Ford vehicle.
Police believed they were related to the driver but he was in an induced coma and had not been spoken to.
Snr Sgt Brown initially said alcohol was a factor in the fatal accident on State Highway 2 just south of the Kaiteratahi Bridge, which is 30 kilometers south of the Te Karaka township. However in a media release today police said it was unknown at this stage whether or not alcohol was a factor in this crash.
This aspect was being investigated by the police.