Driver dies at scene of crash

By Peter de Graaf, Peter Jackson

4 comments
Emergency services at the scene of yesterday's fatal accident on a suburban street in Kaitaia. Photo / Peter Jackson
Emergency services at the scene of yesterday's fatal accident on a suburban street in Kaitaia. Photo / Peter Jackson

A Northland man has died in a high-speed crash which left his car wrapped around a tree on a suburban street.

Twenty-one-year-old Rutene Wikotu, of Kaitaia, died at the scene of the crash on Allen Bell Drive about 8.30am yesterday.

Kaitaia volunteer firefighters had cut him out of the wreckage of the station wagon after it veered off a right-hand bend and struck the tree side-on, the driver's side taking the worst of the impact.

Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan, of Kaitaia police, said speed was "definitely" believed to be a factor. Mr Wikotu was the only person in the car and no other vehicles were involved.

The crash occurred in a 50km/h zone. Mr Ryan said specialist investigators from the Serious Crash Unit were working to determine the speed at the time of impact.

Kaitaia chief fire officer Colin Kitchen said the car's engine caught fire moments after impact but a woman who lived nearby put out the flames with a garden hose.

Her action had saved bystanders and family members from an even more traumatic scene, he said.

The fire brigade remained on Allen Bell Drive until early afternoon, clearing debris and keeping the scene secure until crash investigators arrived from Whangarei. A police four-wheel drive had to be used to pull the wreckage off the tree.

Mr Ryan urged motorists to drive to the conditions and observe speed limits.

Meanwhile, the man who died in Northland's previous fatal crash was farewelled at a packed service in Kerikeri on Friday.

Alan John Towers, 57, died when his car left State Highway 10 about 1km north of the Kerikeri crossroads on September 28. His teenage son was in the car at the time but suffered only minor injuries.

A second crash occurred just moments later when a Nissan Silvia heading in the opposite direction crashed into the rear of a parked Volkswagen. Its occupants had stopped to help Mr Towers, who was well known in the district for his mechanical skills had most recently worked at the Stihl shop in Waipapa.

Speed was also thought to be a factor in the second crash. The Silvia's skid marks stretched at least 80m from the brow of a hill to the point of impact. The driver suffered minor injuries but two female passengers, aged 17 and 18, were seriously injured and had to be airlifted to hospital.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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