A 78-year-old had to be cut out of his vehicle and flown to Hawke's Bay Hospital yesterday afternoon when his 4WD smashed into a power pole on State Highway 50.
The man had been travelling south along the windy road between Maraekakaho and Tikokino when he came off the road at a slight bend, smashed through a fence and concrete power pole, before coming to rest in a residential driveway.
Once freed, he was airlifted to Hawke's Bay Hospital in a critical condition with head injuries.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash and it is believed he was travelling alone.
Hastings Fire Senior Station Officer Kerry Harford said a rescue appliance and a pumping appliance from Hastings attended the crash scene and firefighters had to cut the man from his vehicle.
"We had to cut him out of the car," he said.
"He was trapped and I think there is one pole down."
Hawke's Bay Road Policing Sergeant Ray Kirkby said the reasons why the man crashed, at about 4pm, were still unknown.
"A single vehicle, southbound, has left the road on an easy left-hand bend, and collided with a power pole," Mr Kirkby said.
"The driver has been taken by rescue helicopter to Hastings [Hawke's Bay] Hospital."
Afternoon traffic backed up along the road, which closed down to one lane, while police and fire services worked at the scene.
Mr Kirkby would not comment on whether speed or alcohol had been a factor, saying it was still under investigation.
St John's District Manager Stephen Smith said an intensive care paramedic had attended, who happened to be on SH50 at the time of the accident.
The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter was called as well, landing in a nearby paddock.
Mr Smith said the man was in a critical condition with head injuries when flown to hospital.
Last night the man remained in a critical condition at Hawke's Bay Hospital.