Four young Hawke's Bay men believed to be from the same family are in hospital - three with life-threatening injuries - after their car hit a culvert north of Wairoa early yesterday.
The impact of the 6.20am crash 10km north of Wairoa flattened the front of the white station-wagon up to the rear passenger doors, scattered car parts and belongings, and contributed to a horror weekend on the country's roads.
The young men were aged between 16 and 22. They were believed to all be from the small town of Nuhaka and from the same family.
Two of the victims were taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings by Gisborne-based Eastland Rescue Helicopter and the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter.
The Lowe Corporation helicopter then returned to collect the remaining two young men. Three of the patients had multiple injuries - including head injuries - and one had a shoulder injury.
A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said three of the men were in critical condition in ICU last night and one was in a stable condition.
Constable Chad Prentice of Wairoa police said the cause of the crash in a 100km/h area was not clear, but no other vehicle was involved.
"We can't jump on any suspicions until there has been a full investigation," he said.
The crash took place between Ohuia and Iwitea Rds. There was wind and rain at the time.
Wairoa Senior Fire Officer Barry Gasson said one fire appliance, two ambulances and two police patrol cars attended the scene.
"We were called because there were reports of persons trapped initially, but when we arrived everyone was out of the vehicle so we assisted ambulance staff with patient care and made a site for the helicopters to land," he said.
Road cordons were in place while a scene investigation was completed, but it did not cause any major traffic delays, Mr Prentice said.
The crash contributed to a shocking weekend on North Island roads - with a death toll of seven and more than a dozen injured .
Five of the seven who died were motorcyclists, including Taranaki men Kelly Richard Reardon, 40, and Gordon Thomas McKay, 68, who died when a van collided with their group of charity riders on Saturday.
Other crashes included a person killed last night on the Waikato Expressway, a 21-year-old farmer killed in a motorcycle and car collision in the Bay of Plenty on Saturday morning, a fatal three-car crash south of Whangarei on Saturday afternoon, a motorcyclist killed in Taumaranui on Saturday night and two-car crash in Rodney that injured seven.
A person was lucky to escape uninjured from a crash in Farndon Rd, Clive, on Saturday. A blue 4WD was upside down in a ditch on the notorious stretch of road when emergency services arrived, but injuries were treated at the scene and no one was taken to hospital.