A member of a rugby team is being hailed as a heroine after she saved the life of a man seriously injured in one of three crashes that caused chaos on State Highway 1 yesterday.
The string of smashes caused a 14km traffic jam north of Huntly, delaying traffic bound for the All Blacks test against Argentina in Hamilton.
About 10.15am, three cars were caught in a pile-up that injured nine people, the most serious being a broken arm.
But as police diverted traffic to help the injured from the first crash, a car went off the road.
Then, at 11.50am, a third, more serious crash occurred on the Fisher Rd detour. A minivan rolled on a bend into a bus carrying 34 Asian tourists. A man and a woman in the van were seriously injured and two children, aged 7 and 8, escaped with minor injuries.
The Waikato women's rugby team bus, travelling north for their season opener against Counties Manukau, was one of thousands of vehicles forced on to the detour.
Coach Reuben Samuel said they first came across a minor crash, a vehicle with a smashed windscreen.
But about 1km on, they were one of the first vehicles on the scene of the serious crash between the van and the bus.
"A car had taken a corner too fast, and rolled into a bus," Samuel said. "There was a man with lacerations on his face and his skin peeled back."
Team lock Carrie Lobb, a surgeon, gave the man first aid. "She had to jump on the car and go through the window," Samuel said. "No one could do what Carrie was doing."
She stayed on after police and ambulance crews arrived. "There was a lot of gratitude shown to Carrie," Samuel said. "She potentially saved a life."
Yesterday afternoon, Lobb laughed off being called a heroine. "I was just helping the guy out," she said. "Anyone could have done it."
The rest of the team helped control traffic and support the shocked tourists.
"We had girls managing traffic because it was crazy," Samuel said. "Everyone was doing u-turns and that stopped the police and ambulances getting there in time.
"There was one significant crash, but it seemed like it was a chain reaction, just people not caring.
"As a team and management we're proud of Carrie and the girls for doing what they did," he added. "It goes to show that women's rugby has a place and we've got legends in the game."