An insensitive tweet from a New Zealand Herald gossip columnist about a deadly accident in Ashburton has caused widespread offence in the town.
Cook Islands woman Cindy George and her three young children died after the mother left a car running to charge the battery in the internal garage of a house she and her kids were house sitting. Carbon monoxide built up and all four were overwhelmed.
Pebbles Hooper, 25, who co-authors the Spy pages for the Herald on Sunday, tweeted on Saturday about the deaths:
"I'll get major slack for this, but leaving a car running inside a closed garage while you're kids are in the house is natural selection," she wrote.
She has since removed the tweet and issued an apology statement, saying she deeply regretted any distress caused to the family.
"I was careless and the issue I regrettably tried to raise was about parental negligence," she said in a statement.
Ashburton Mayor Angus McKay has called the tweet "absolutely outrageous".
"I would ask Pebbles to apologise to the grieving family, to the people of Ashburton and the people of New Zealand," he said.
Other Ashburton locals spoken to by ONE News called the comment "horrifying", "cruel", "appalling" and even "a little bit racist".
The editor of the Herald on Sunday Miriyana Alexander has also apologised for Hooper's tweet, saying the view wasn't shared by the paper and that the matter would be treated seriously, including following it up with Hooper this week.