A young boy was aboard a heavy haulage truck involved in a horrific early-morning smash with a light truck, in which the driver died instantly.
Northern Rural Haulage owner Doug Wilson was amazed the contractor driver and his youngest son - who were travelling south in a tipper truck - walked away from the crash with cuts and scratches.
Last night the father and son were understood to be recuperating at home after the smash that happened early on in a normal Saturday shift. Wilson said the tipper and a fruit and vegetable van heading north crashed head-on. He said the driver told him the light truck crossed the centre line and drove into the path of the 11-tonne vehicle on State Highway 1, about 30km south of Whangarei, Northland.
"I was at the site and it was a real mess," Wilson said. "It looked like it was a head-on smash on a stretch of open road.
"My driver and his son, who is only 12 or 13, were in a state of absolute shock but they had a very lucky escape to have come away from that mess alive.
"The tipper is a robust truck and the other vehicle was like a wee van by comparison."
Wilson said his driver is a local family man in his 40s, from Mata.
The fruit and vegetable truck — which was destroyed by the impact — had come from Auckland.
"It was not a nice sight at all and what happened to the other driver is very sad. I am just so relieved my worker and his kid are all right. If they had not been in the tipper, I shudder to think what could have happened to them both."
Police said the circumstances of the crash were still being investigated.
SH1 was blocked and diversions were in place for the afternoon.
Traffic was diverted through Paparoa to Maungaturoto, via SH12, before returning to SH1 just south of the Brynderwyn Hills.