A 38-year-old man was killed yesterday after a head-on collision between two trucks on the Hawke's Bay Expressway, the impact throwing him into the Ahuriri Lagoon.
The accident happened close to another head-on collision on Tuesday night which left one man with critical injuries.
Sergeant Paul Ormerod of Hawke's Bay Road Policing said a southbound Nissan light truck and a northbound Kenwood logging truck collided at about 1.20pm yesterday on the Ahuriri Estuary Bridge.
"At this stage it appears the southbound Nissan vehicle has drifted over the centre-line and collided head-on with the north-bound logging truck," he said.
"The logging truck driver took all the evasive action he could, hitting the left-hand Armco barrier."
After the collision the long-nosed Kenworth logging truck truck, with an empty piggy-backed trailer, crossed over the centre-line and came to rest facing north on the south-bound lane on the airport side of the bridge.
The Nissan came to rest on the bridge on its side, a trail of debris between the two vehicles.
"The 38-year-old driver of the south-bound Nissan was thrown out of his cab and into the estuary on the eastern side of the bridge," Mr Ormerod said.
"A local doctor was first on the scene along with members of the public who have gone down into the ankle-deep water and moved the driver on to a small sand bank to give assistance.
"The doctor said he believed the driver died instantly as a result of the crash.
"A few minutes later fire and ambulance arrived on the scene and moved the deceased from the water, due to the incoming tide, and he was transferred to the Hastings mortuary," he said.
"The 38-year-old local driver of the logging truck was assessed by ambulance at the scene and transported to Hawke's Bay Hospital for observation after showing signs of shock," Mr Ormerod said.
"From initial investigations it appears the southbound driver was not wearing his seatbelt."
The Expressway between between Meeanee Quay and Prebensen Drive was closed for several hours as the Serious Crash Unit investigated.
Distressed family members of the deceased visited the accident scene, as did Victim Support.
On Tuesday a car and van collided at the northern approach to the Ahuriri Estuary Bridge about 9.15pm, with the impact sending the van into the air where it came to rest on the steel roadside Armco barriers.
The driver managed to get out but later collapsed and was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital with leg injuries and severe bruising.
The 27-year-old driver of the car, which had been heading in a southerly direction towards Napier, had to be cut from the wreckage and was later admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit where his condition was described as critical.
Why yesterday's accident occurred was a mystery, Mr Ormerod said.
Neither speed nor alcohol were believed to be a factor, it was a fine day with excellent visibility, there was little wind and a rumble strip should have alerted the driver he had crossed the double yellow centre line. So far no witnesses had come forward, even though the crash scene is a popular recreational area - the cycleway crosses under the bridge, as did multiple kayakers while emergency services responded yesterday. Witnesses are asked to contact sergeant Paul Ormerod, 8730500.