Fatal smash on Kaimais takes school holiday toll to 8

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There was a fatal motor vehicle accident on the Lower Kaimai Range yesterday afternoon. Photo/Andrew Warner.
There was a fatal motor vehicle accident on the Lower Kaimai Range yesterday afternoon. Photo/Andrew Warner.

One person has been killed and two others injured after a three car crash on State Highway 29.

The collision, which took place at 3.30pm yesterday, saw emergency services scrambling to the Lower Kaimai Range just before peak-hour traffic started on the last weekday of the school holidays.

Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said the crash involved two cars heading towards Tauranga and one heading in the other direction. Police were still investigating, he said.

Mr Campion said two people were taken to Tauranga Hospital with moderate injuries.

He did not know how many people were in each car.

The death would be the 13th on Western Bay of Plenty roads this year. It was the eighth death nationally for this school holiday period.

A red and yellow cover was placed on top of the red car where the deceased person lay, just 300 metres from Kaimai School.

Emergency services swept sawdust across the road at the crash site to absorb the petrol which had leaked from the cars.

Members of the public helped direct traffic around the scene where car parts and glass lay scattered across the road.

Just before 5pm, the road was completely closed to motorists while the Serious Crash Unit investigated. It was reopened about 90 minutes later.

A Police Media Team spokeswoman said the name and age of the deceased person would be released when next of kin had been informed.

"That could be any time, sometimes it takes less than a day, sometimes up to a week," she said.

Kaimai School Principal Dane Robertson said it was not the first crash outside the school and he feared it would not be the last either.

Mr Robertson said he had previously campaigned to have the speed limits outside the school slowed at the start and end of the school day, like they were for schools in urban areas.

"The fact the road has not been changed [for safety], leaves me speechless. I feel like I am beating my head against a wall.

"This crash happened [at] 3.30pm on Friday afternoon, that's not far off school finishing time and it's not the first accident within 300m of the school.

"I thought to myself, were there any staff leaving the school and on their way home? We have students who live in the area. Were they or their parents in it? It brings it close to home, as all accidents do."

Mr Robertson said it always played on the back of his mind there would be another crash and having the speed limit changed remained a high priority for the school, he said.

Other road deaths on Western Bay roads this year:

April 16: Cyclist Shinia Matehaere, 5, killed on Matapihi Rd after a collision with a ute.

May 7: Tauranga man Dion Pollero, 29, killed after his car collided with a truck on SH29 on the Kaimai Range.

May 21: Te Hira Whittaker-Ngaropo, 12, and his brother Chance, 16, died when their vehicle crashed on SH2 in Pikowai, near Pukehina.

July 29: Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60, and Kenny McRae, killed after being struck by a vehicle while he and her partner were changing a tyre on Ms Rhodes' SUV on SH29A between Baypark and Maungatapu.

August 2: Tongan men Sitiveni Vaipulu, 44, Koli Vaipulu, 21, Halani Fine, 28, Samuela Taukatelata, 28, and Sione Teulaka, 21, killed after their car collided with a logging truck on the intersection of SH2 and Dawson Rd.

August 27: Respected Bay elder Paula Heke killed after her car collided with another vehicle on Te Puna Rd, next to the intersection of Te Puna Station Rd.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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