A 39-year-old man found dead after driving off the road in Central Hawke's Bay may have been distracted by a puppy, his mother says.
Two mountain bikers found the body of Trinity Waitere in his car down a bank off Takapau Road in Waipukurau about 6.30pm on Tuesday.
The vehicle's engine was cold and police said the crash may have occurred up to 24 hours earlier.
Father-of-four Mr Waitere was thought to have been travelling north when his vehicle veered off the right side of the road, down a ditch and into a tree.
His mother, Verna Waitere, told Fairfax Media that her son had been driving to Hastings from Takapau on Monday night or Tuesday morning and he may have been distracted by a pit bull puppy he had with him.
"He had this little puppy he took everywhere. He always had it under his seat. Where the crash happened was on a bit of a straight so we think the dog might have distracted him," she said.
The puppy survived the crash and is now with family members.