Car crash, fallen tree block SH29

By Sam Boyer

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A car crash and a fallen tree delayed traffic on one of the Bay's most dangerous stretches of highway on Sunday.

First was a car crash on State Highway 29 that delayed traffic for more than 40 minutes.

The two-car accident happened about 2.30pm at the intersection of the highway and Redwood Lane.

Tauranga St John confirmed a 75-year-old Tauranga woman was taken to Tauranga Hospital suffering back pain following the crash.

The woman was travelling home from visiting family in Cambridge when her vehicle collided with a stationary car that was waiting to turn from State Highway 29 into Redwood Lane.

Rodney Adamson, who lives on Redwood Lane about 100m from where the accident occurred, said there was a screech of tyres and a loud impact noise.

He said the stretch of road is a black spot for accidents, even though it's relatively straight.

Some residents have taken to calling it Deadwood Lane instead of Redwood Lane because of the number of accidents they say happen there.

Melanie Green said she rushed up the road to see what had happened in the aftermath of the crash, and a witness told her the 75-year-old driver of the silver car had veered into the other, a Rav 4, which was stopped near the centre line waiting to turn into Redwood Lane.

"The lady, she was following the silver car ... she said the Rav 4 was turning into the street. She said the [silver] car just drifted across," she said.

The elderly driver of the car was removed from her car and appeared to be shaken.

"They took the old lady and they sat her on the side of the road.

"But her airbag went off - so that probably saved her. She looked in shock more than anything," she said.

Firefighters from Tauranga and Greerton stations helped with traffic control at the scene.

Tauranga station officer Nigel Liddicoat said no one was trapped or badly injured in the crash.

Then, about 30 minutes after the crash, a tree fell on to the highway about 1km up the road, blocking the eastbound lane and delaying traffic for another 10 minutes.

A fire truck from Greerton was beaten to the scene by a passing army truck, which pulled the tree to the roadside. Fire crews were then able to clear the road by chopping the tree into smaller pieces with a chainsaw.

Senior fire fighter Ben Alston said it was reported the tree had fallen because of high winds but wondered if the gusts would have been strong enough.

"I don't even know if it was the wind. I don't know why it fell. It was a bit strange," he said.

Tauranga police senior sergeant Steve Hindmarsh said he had a lot of people ringing the station to ask if the highway was closed because of the backlog of traffic following the incidents.

Meanwhile, a 47-year-old Mount Maunganui man has been taken to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition after a motorcycle crash yesterday.

The man had been riding a motorcycle along Matapihi Rd when he came off the bike and was injured about 6pm.

Tauranga St John Ambulance officers attended and took the man, who had serious injuries, to Tauranga Hospital.

He then was flown to Waikato Hospital by Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance.

 - with Michele McPherson and Kiri Gillespie

- Bay of Plenty Times

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