A motorist who narrowly avoided decapitation when the van he was driving slammed into a one-way bridge remained critical in intensive care at Hawke's Bay Hospital last night.
The 27-year-old, believed to be from Palmerston North, suffered a broken jaw, serious head injuries and lacerations to his arm from the accident, which saw the driver's side of the van deeply embedded in a concrete abutment, north of Tikokino.
Police believe speed and alcohol were not factors but would continue investigations on the wreck to determine if mechanical failure had contributed to the crash, which occurred in a 100km/h area on Thursday.
Sergeant Paul Ormerod said at the time there was extensive damage to the cab and it was "amazing" the man wasn't decapitated.
Members of the public managed to remove the injured man from his mangled vehicle before emergency services arrived. He was later airlifted from the scene by Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter.
"He's extremely lucky to be alive," Mr Ormerod said.