Omaha tragedy: New details emerge in death of Joshua Wayne Hartner on New Years Day

Tragic new details have emerged about the death of an Auckland schoolboy who was hit and killed by a car in Omaha in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Joshua Wayne Hartner, 17, was a student at Auckland Grammar School and has been remembered as a promising sportsman, talented design student and valued friend.

Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O’Connor says the school community is devastated by the loss.

“Josh was a popular young man during his four years at Auckland Grammar; a talented design student who embraced life as a proud Grammar boy,” O’Connor said yesterday.

“He was a promising rugby player and a member of the 5A Grammar team. He played social basketball and senior Saturday morning cricket with his good mates and as a talented tennis player he represented the school in a number of Premier tennis fixtures.”

Most importantly, O’Connor said, Hartner was a “loved son, brother and valued friend”.
“Along with others we are helping support Josh’s family and his friends across a number of Auckland secondary schools and feel the heartbreak with them and respect their privacy,” O’Connor said.

The Herald has learned that Hartner was lying on the sand at a property on Omaha Driveabout 4am when a car drove on to him.

The driver of thecar involvedwasalso a teenager and a good friend of Joshua, the Herald has confirmed.

When first responders arrived at the scene, his mates were desperately trying to jack the vehicle up off the teenager.

He could not be saved.

Emergency crews were called about 4am to Omaha Drive, where Hartner was found dead.
The driver is assisting police with their inquiries. He underwent alcohol and drug testing after police arrived at the scene — a standard procedure after a crash.

Police could not comment on the results of that testing.

The serious crash unit is investigating to establish the circumstances of the tragedy.

Its investigation could take some time as its members speak to witnesses and complete various reports on the incident, vehicle, road situation and environment.

“It was a bunch of 17-year-olds having a good time and just gone horribly wrong,” said a source.

Hartner’s family have not yet commented on his death and have asked for privacy.

“We are ensuring that Joshua’s family is supported as they grieve the loss of a dearly loved son and family member,” said a police spokesperson.

A resident in the area said she was woken up by flashing lights in the early hours of Saturday and had wondered what was happening outside.

She spotted four police cars on the street, which remained there throughout Sunday.
The woman told the Herald one of the distinct images she had in her mind was seeing a police officer at the scene holding on to a tree, seemingly for support.

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