Parents critical after crash which killed daughter

A tourist who died after the rental she was a passenger in crashed into a fully laden logging truck near Matamata was from America and travelling with her parents, police have confirmed.

The 22-year-old was in the front seat passenger in the silver Hyundai vehicle which turned right into Hopkins Rd, off State Highway 29, into the path of a logging truck yesterday morning.

The turn-off is the main route to Hobbiton Movie Set, but Waikato police Senior Sergeant Gill Meadows said it was still unclear where the trio were travelling but it was possible they were heading to the well-known tourist attraction.

Mrs Meadows said the woman's 59-year-old father was driving the car while her 55-year-old mother was in the back seat. The pair were airlifted to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition.

"I understand the mother was going into surgery today, that was the latest update that we had, but both were still in a very serious condition."

Police were still liaising with Interpol and the American Embassy in regards to locating next of kin.

The impact of the crash was so intense that witnesses noticed the truck and trailer unit get airborne on impact before shunting the car about 20m down the road into a fence.

Mrs Meadows says the crash bears striking similarities to that which killed three American tourists at Tuhikaramea, on the outskirts of Hamilton, in March last year.

Utah woman Ruth-Ann, 49, and her husband, Mitchell Peterson, 50, from Monroe, died in the crash along with Tamara Garlick Barnett from Richfield, Utah.

Mrs Barnett's husband, Richard Barnett, 56 - the driver of the vehicle - survived the crash and was fined $4500 after pleading guilty to careless driving.

Mrs Meadows says it seems that some American drivers tend to look left before turning right, however, there was still no explanation as to what the 59-year-old was doing at the time of the crash.

"It's just another tragedy on our roads, it's avoidable ... [tourists] all just need to do their homework and understand and plan their routes and know where they are going, and if they're unsure where they're going to pull over to the side and reassess."

However, tourists weren't the only ones getting into strife on the country's roads, she says.

"The message just doesn't go to tourists travelling the country but locals as well, they still do some silly things."

The crash near Matamata was one of several road crashes yesterday involving trucks.

Another motorist had a lucky escape after his vehicle plunged 100m off a cliff near Piha.

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A search was launched by emergency services after the driver called for help on a cellphone, but was unable to give them his exact location.

The driver was rescued by firefighters near Lone Kauri Rd after an extensive search yesterday morning.

A 50-year-old woman was seriously injured yesterday morning after her vehicle collided with a fully loaded concrete truck on State Highway 1 south of Whangarei.

The One Tree Point resident was flown to Auckland by the Northland Rescue Helicopter.

In Kaipara, one person suffered minor injuries after the truck they were driving rolled on State Highway 14 yesterday evening.

Just hours earlier another crash involved a truck and a number of vehicles on Auckland's Southern Motorway. There were no serious injuries.

In Rotorua at least one person was seriously injured after a car rolled 5km north of the city at 3.45pm.

And in Wellington a serious crash left two people trapped and closed a major road yesterday.

Police said a van and ute collided on the Haywards Hill Rd just before 5.30am.

- NZ Herald

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