Highway blocked as kiwifruit truck rolls

By Kiri Gillespie


A truck and trailer crash at a Western Bay of Plenty blackspot sparked the closure of State Highway 2 yesterday, delaying truckies and forcing other traffic through rural roads.

The Omokoroa Carriers vehicle had been travelling towards Tauranga when it tipped over on a sharp bend and came to a stop at Waitahanui Lane, at the base of a large hill near Otamarakau School.

The 48-year-old driver was not seriously injured. He was taken to Tauranga Hospital with a sore shoulder and cut hand.

The truck and trailer had been carrying 25 tonnes of kiwifruit when it crashed about 10am. The impact of the truck skidding several metres across the highway carved a 1.5m trench in the road.

A crane was called in to lift the truck and trailer back on to its wheels.

Te Puke Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack said from the scene yesterday that a diversion had been put in place for light traffic while police waited on the crane to arrive.

Heavy vehicles had to wait until the road was cleared.

"Once it is lifted someone can see if there are any mechanical difficulties and the CVIU [police commercial vehicle investigation unit] can decide on what charges are going to be laid," Ms Lack said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

Pukehina volunteer fire brigade Chief Fire Officer Errol Watts said crashes at the bend typically involved trucks travelling west.

"We do get a lot of trucks tipping over here," Mr Watts said.

"He is lucky that where his cab had gone in here, he wasn't hurt."

Mr Watts said the corner was notorious for crashes but safety measures such as better signage had improved the bend's safety in recent years.

A stock truck carrying 30-35 cattle beasts was involved in a crash at the bend several weeks ago.

Many of the cattle ran free over the road, while others were trapped in the vehicle.

NZTA state highway manager Brett Gliddon said vehicles were advised to travel via SH33 and SH30 while the road was closed after yesterday's crash. Some chose to wait it out.

Cars and light vehicles travelling south were diverted via Old Coach Rd, MacDougall Quarry Rd and Otamarakau Valley Rd to rejoin SH2, a diversion of about 15km. The road was reopened n about 1.30pm.

Omokoroa Carriers transport manager Tony Ashton confirmed the truck belonged to the company and was transporting kiwifruit.

They were waiting on a police report to establish what happened before commenting further, he said.

Several weeks ago, another Omokoroa Carriers truck was involved in a crash on SH2 at Athenree.

In July 2010, five children including a baby were thrown from the car they were travelling in when a woman crashed into a traffic barrier at the Otamarakau bend.

This week, a man died when his truck and trailer went over a steep bank in the Kaimai Ranges and a man was thrown from the ground spreader he was riding when it fell 30m down a hill at a Pongakawa farm on Wednesday.

A 15-year-old boy was run over by a tractor at a Paengaroa orchard on Tuesday.

That afternoon an 80-year-old suffered serious injuries after his car went off a different bank in the Kaimais.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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