A train struck a car as it tried to reverse off a railway crossing near Waipukurau yesterday, seriously injuring the driver who was only 50m from her home.
The driver, a 55-year-old woman, sustained a suspected broken pelvis, chest and abdominal injuries and was airlifted to Hawke's Bay Hospital by the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter for further treatment. Last night she was listed in a stable condition.
Police Sergeant Geoff Strother said the woman was on her way home travelling on Lindsay Rd about 5pm when she failed to move out of the path of the freight train heading north towards Hastings.
"She had just come off State Highway 2 [north of Waipukurau] and on to Lindsay Rd. She saw the train and stopped but was already partially across the crossing.
"She put the car into reverse and moved back about a metre before her car was hit by the train, which continued on for another 250m towards Hastings."
Mr Strother said a man and his son following the car ran to give assistance.
Staff from the nearby Infracon office also came to help.
Waipukurau fire service worked to remove the driver from the car, which had severe damage to its front after it was shunted about 5m down the side of a bank. St John staff treated the driver before she was taken to hospital by the rescue helicopter.
Mr Strother did not believe there was major damage to the train but KiwiRail investigators would be out at the scene to review the crash. He said initially reports suggested the train, which was coming around a bend towards the crossing, had sounded its horn twice before reaching the crossing.
Family of the injured driver said the woman had been to a supermarket and was heading home with the groceries. They pointed out the driveway to their home was "just over the crossing" about 50m away.
Other witnesses reported the driver was alert and speaking to emergency staff after being removed from the car wreck.
Mr Strother said police were keen to hear from eyewitnesses or any people who may have been driving on Lindsay Rd shortly before 5pm, to gauge what the lighting conditions were like.