Driver who died in Cambridge head-on crash had lost mum in brutal killing

Sharnae Hope12:06, Sep 17 2022

Two people have died after a car and ambulance collided south of Cambridge.

The driver killed in a crash between a car and ambulance near Cambridge had lost his mother two years ago after she was stabbed and set on fire by a mentally unwell man.

Aucklander Deon Hadley, 33, died at the scene after his silver Audi collided head on with an ambulance on State Highway 1 near Cambridge about 3.45am on Wednesday.

The ambulance officer was critically injured and was flown to Waikato Hospital were she later died that afternoon with family by her side.

Deon’s sister Ariana Hadley said the family was still in shock, but knows he had been struggling with their mother Tania Hadley’s death for a long time.

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Deon Hadley, Tania Hadley's son, outside the High Court in Auckland in 2020.
EDWARD GAY/STUFFDeon Hadley, Tania Hadley’s son, outside the High Court in Auckland in 2020.

“I feel numb, but I’m just focusing on making sure my brother is at rest and gets the send-off that my mother got.

“I will grieve after all of this is over.”

She said she was at work when she found out her brother had died and didn’t want to believe it.

Describing him as a bubbly person who cared for a lot of people, she said he had become a bit of a troublemaker since their mum’s death, but was trying to do better.MORE FROM
SHARNAE HOPE • WAIKATO REPORTER
sharnae.hope@stuff.co.nz

Their mother died in May 2020 after her border, Damien Chandler, doused her in petrol, set her on fire then slashed her throat at her home in Mt Roskill, Auckland.

At the time, Deon said Chandler and his girlfriend had been living with his mother for eight months as boarders.

Chandler was charged with the murder, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity the following year.

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Deon Johnson-Hadley, 33, died at the scene after his silver Audi collided head on with an ambulance on State Highway 1 near Cambridge about 3.45am on Wednesday.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFFDeon Johnson-Hadley, 33, died at the scene after his silver Audi collided head on with an ambulance on State Highway 1 near Cambridge about 3.45am on Wednesday.

He was ordered to be held at a secure mental health facility for at least 10 years.

Throughout the trial Deon spoke out about his mum’s tragic death.

He was often found cradling a photograph of his mother outside court, and described her as a hard-working person who put others first.

While he was pleased with the outcome and hoped Chandler would never be released, Ariana said he had lost himself in many ways.

Tania Hadley was stabbed and set on fire by her border at her home in Mt Roskill, Auckland.
MACAU HADLEYTania Hadley was stabbed and set on fire by her border at her home in Mt Roskill, Auckland.

He was still living in Auckland at their mum’s house, but had left a couple of days prior to go travelling, Ariana understood.

“He was on a bit of a spiritual journey because he was still struggling with our mother’s death.

“I think he was just trying to find himself again. He just wasn’t himself any more.”

The pair were close, but she said they had grown distant since their mum’s death and “could see him going down a dangerous path”.

“I just wanted him to do better with his life… but now he won’t get that chance.”

The family will hold a private cremation ceremony on Monday.

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