A witness has described how he could do nothing to save the life of a young man killed in a "terrifying" crash yesterday morning.
A car became airborne and slammed into a power pole on the outskirts of Havelock North at about 4.20am. The sole occupant, a 19-year-old local man, died in the crash on Te Mata-Mangateretere Rd, about 300m from the intersection with Te Mata Rd.
A nearby resident told Hawke's Bay Today that he was awoken by a "horrible, terrifying bang" before he quickly phoned emergency services.
The man, who lives in the house with his daughter and wife, was only metres from the driver as he attempted to reach the wrecked car but live powerlines prevented him from leaving his front gate.
"There were live wires outside my house, so I couldn't get to the car. I was yelling out at the driver but sadly there was no answer."
Road Policing Sergeant Kevin Stewart said early investigations suggested speed had been a factor in the crash, and a post-mortem examination would determine if alcohol was also involved.
"It's a real tragedy because not only is it a loss of life but it affects so many people's lives as well."
He said the serious crash team would begin its report after mapping out the crash scene. He added it appeared the driver had lost control along the bend, while travelling south-east, before hitting an open drain, becoming airborne and slamming into the power pole on the passenger side of the car.
When emergency crews arrived, the 19-year-old was already dead. The resident said despite the Hastings District Council lowering the speed limit to 80km/h, the road would continue to be a danger zone for car crashes.
"It was not so long ago that we had a car lose control and take down the very next powerpole."
In March, the Hastings District Council changed speed limits on 31 roads and introduced a new Safe Speed Area that covers about 58km of the Hastings roading network in the Heretaunga Plains area.
Many motorists criticised the changes, despite the council focusing on an area that represents about 3 per cent of the district's total roading network but was the scene of 32 per cent of the fatal crashes in the past five years.
"These roads have been chosen because they have had a much higher number of crashes," Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said yesterday.
The council was calling for public submissions on the changes before hearings in September and October would decide if the new speed limits remained. "It's just a tragedy for the family involved," Mr Yule said of the weekend's crash. "When we have our hearings later this year, hopefully by then we will have a better understanding of what has caused this crash."
Power to nearby residents near the crash site remained switched off for most of yesterday. The road reopened just after 10am. Crash investigators also completed a scene examination yesterday morning.
As of last Friday, the national road toll for this year was 171, compared with 152 at the same time last year.
The death of the 19-year-old driver lifts the number to at least 172.