A Dunedin man was "very lucky" to escape serious injury after his car rolled down a bank at Lee Stream near Outram this morning.

Serious crash investigator Amie Manning said it appeared the man's car had crossed the centre line on State Highway 87 and hit the barrier by the Lee Stream bridge before rolling down the bank and across the stream and coming to rest in trees next to the water.

Firefighters used the jaws of life to free the man, in his mid-60s, from the vehicle.

A St John spokesman said the man had minor head injuries and was very lucky to have escaped more serious injury.

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Sergeant Kevin Davidson, of Mosgiel, said when he saw the car he "definitely" expected the man to be dead.

Mr Davidson estimated that the car had travelled about 50m from where it had left the road.

The man was airlifted to hospital.