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Indigenous teen in out of home care killed in high-speed car collision

Jess Whaler -

A 15-year-old Indigenous teenager who had been in out of home care since the age of four, died in Canberra last week from injuries sustained in what has been described as a high-speed catastrophic single car collision near federal Parliament House.

ACT Police told ABC News the vehicle involved in the collision near Parliament had reportedly been stolen on or around April 14, and police had tried to stop the car on multiple occasions before the accident occurred on the morning of April 17, which claimed the life of the boy, who can not be named for legal reasons.

Acting Inspector Mark Richardson said: "I can't say whether that male that was located today was involved in those (attempted vehicle stops). We have seen in other cases where people come in and out of stolen motor vehicles, if groups are involved, they may swap drivers."

The teenager was living in residential care at the time of the accident, how this event was able to eventuate has raised concerns around duty of care and the failures of the Child Youth Protective Services system.

His aunt said she believes her nephew had been left for dead by others, and expressed disappointment with how mainstream news providers had reported the incident.

"I'll keep my promise to that kid, which is to make sure when they take children out of their home that they don't put them into a home that is worse than the home they came from," she wrote on social media.

Despite the challenges he faced growing up in the child youth protection system and associated trauma that was paired with additional learning difficulties, the 15-year-old had enjoyed school and had played one season of rugby union, winning a grand final with his team.

He has been described by family and friends as a people pleaser, who wanted nothing more than love and acceptance for who he was.

Family have said that while he did not always make the right decisions, this often stemmed from a need to prove himself, to fit it in where he thought he belonged.

A family friend told National Indigenous Times: "Learning was difficult for him. I just believe a lot of systems here in ACT failed this poor child and now we have other kids who are grieving. Yes, he was a little troubled but he had reasonings behind it all."

"You'd always see him smiling, poking his tongue out at people and always laughing. He was always happy when around friends and making new ones," she said.

A close friend of his said: "He'd do anything for anyone who needed it, he wouldn't even think of himself."

Another said: "He was full of joy, he had the sweetest heart. He was caring and the funniest person I knew."

ACT Policing's Major Collision Team are still investigating the incident and have called on the public for information.

"Anyone who saw the white Toyota Camry prior to 4.55am on Wednesday morning or who has dash-cam footage of the Camry is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Please quote 7726381. Information can be provided anonymously."

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