Two people killed in a horrific Bay of Plenty crash yesterday were attempting to change a car tyre, police say.

The crash occurred State Highway 29A between Baypark and Welcome Bay, Tauranga, about 4.15pm.

Police said in a statement that a blue Nissan travelling south struck three pedestrians who were attempting to change a flat tyre on a white SUV.

There was a second white Ford station wagon parked in front of the SUV.

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"Sadly, two of the pedestrians have died with the third currently in Tauranga Hospital with serious injuries."

Police appealed for witnesses to come forward, particularly in relation to the two white vehicles parked on the roadside prior to the crash.

"At this time police want to remind people while the majority of drivers take their road user responsibilities seriously, the crashes and loss of life clearly demonstrate when a mistake is made the consequences are devastating and far reaching," the statement said.

The west-bound lane of the highway was closed for more than four hours while the scene was cleared and the serious crash unit investigated.

A passer-by caught up in east-bound traffic said "it looks like a nasty crash".

The woman was heading home to Te Puke but was caught up in traffic about 300m on the eastern side of Maungatapu Bridge about 5.20pm.

The woman, who would not be named, said she could see a person lying on the ground with what looked like a white cover over them.

Police said it was a "chaotic" Friday afternoon for emergency services, who were called to at least three other crashes around Tauranga city.

Anyone with information about yesterday's fatal crash were asked to contact Tauranga police on (07) 577 4300 or alternatively to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police extended their sympathies to the families of those killed in yesterday's crash.