A woman is in a serious condition and considered lucky to be alive after spending up to four hours trapped beneath her crashed Royal Mail van in remote hills west of Hastings yesterday.

Emergency services were alerted to the crash just before 5.15pm, and a Fire Service rescue crew and the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter went to the scene off upper Mangleton Road between the Whakarara and Ruahine ranges and about a 40-minute for the rescue crews from Hastings.

Fire Service senior firefighter Mike Adie said that when crews heard on route that the 60-year-old woman had been trapped for several hours they were prepared for "the worst" but arrived almost simultaneously as the rescue helicopter finding the woman trapped beneath the late model van which was in shade in a "lush green" paddock after a drop of about 20 metres off the road.

Local farmers were about to lift the vehicle but the fire service began a controlled life using air bags and the advice of paramedics to limit deterioration of the woman's injuries.
She was able to talking with her rescuers as a the vehicle was being lifted.

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Mr Adie said a woman, apparently from one of the few farms further up the no exit road had noticed the damage to the fenceline and other signs of a crash earlier in the afternoon but saw no one and formed the impression the situation had been resolved. But becoming concerned soon afterwards that the mail and milk had not arrived she returned to the scene and discovered the crash.

The rescue helicopter landed in the paddock where the van had landed, and the woman was flown to hospital in Hastings.