The stepmother of a 6-year-old girl critically injured in a quad bike accident in Waimarama says she regrets not getting off the bike with the child minutes before the accident.
Stephanie Lucas, 22, who was on the quad bike with her step-daughter Ashlee Shorrock, Ashlee's father and two other men when the accident happened late on Wednesday night, says she had wanted to take the child home.
The four adults and Ashlee were thrown off the quad bike when it crashed down a ditch and into a fence of a tennis court on Okaihau Rd.
Ashlee was taken to Starship Children's Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday but is now stable. She has five broken ribs, a broken arm, broken collar bone and had been in an induced coma.
Ms Lucas said she wasn't intoxicated at the time.
"I had one drink all day," she said.
"All I remember is one of the boys was driving. I know what we did was stupid but we are always on that motorbike and have driven that road thousands of times."
She said she was sitting on the front of the quad bike holding Ashlee when they were thrown from the vehicle.
Ashlee's father, Daniel McGregor, and his two friends Kevin and Reece, whose surnames are yet to be released, were also on the bike. She said they had been drinking on the beach before driving up to a lookout shortly before midnight.
"I didn't want to go. When we went past the house I asked them to stop and let me off so I could put Ash to bed. But they said we would only be five minutes. I regret that. We should have got off," Lucas said.
The accident has prompted a warning about the dangers of quad bikes from Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, who said it was lucky no one was killed. Mr Yule said the vehicle ban Hastings District Council had imposed on Waimarama beach this summer had been well received, however when quad bikes were used on roads, it was a matter for the police and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
"I think when you have alcohol, recreation, and people hooning round without helmets in coastal areas - I think it's a bit of a recipe for disaster," he said. "They're well used and well loved, but people need to be well aware of their dangers and just like a car and alcohol don't mix, a four-wheeler and alcohol don't mix."
Meanwhile, Marianne Poszeluk, the owner of Jarks Cafe in Waimarama where Ms Lucas works, told TV3 Ms Lucas was a "lovely girl".
"Ashlee was well looked after and that's the thing that the story doesn't tell so far in the paper," she said. "Steph doted on that girl, she absolutely adored her, we can't understand how she allowed this to happen to the child considering the love she had for her.
"I don't know what outcome can come from this, my biggest hope right now is Ashlee pulls through. Steph's come out of hospital now, she came and saw me the day she got out, she's bruised and battered and obviously very upset by what's happened."
Police are yet to determine who was driving the quad bike when it rolled but have said the crash was the result of "the stupidity of the adults", who were all aged between 20 and 28.
When they were admitted to hospital police took blood samples of all four adults for analysis, and there could be charges pending.
Last night a 20-year-old man was in a stable condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital, as was a 28-year-old man at Middlemore Hospital. Ashlee Shorrock remains in a stable condition in an intensive care unit at Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland.