A truck driver is being hailed as a "bloody hero" for managing to safely stop after his brakes failed as he drove up Queen St on Monday morning.

The mystery driver hit a van before manoeuvring his truck backward onto Airedale St and crashing into the side of a building, missing the lunchtime crowd of pedestrians further down Auckland CBD's main drag.

The van's owner, Tom Waite, was driving with one passenger when the truck hit them on the corner of Queen St and Mayoral Dr.

"There were no brakes on the truck. I was behind him and I saw him coming down," he told the Herald.

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Tom Waite's van was written off when the truck hit it after its brakes failed on Queen St. Photo/ Nick Reed
Tom Waite's van was written off when the truck hit it after its brakes failed on Queen St. Photo/ Nick Reed

"I thought he was reversing into the building site there and then he just swerved down and then I realised he wasn't going into the building site - then it was too late and he smashed me and pushed me to the side of the road."

Waite said he and his passenger were uninjured, getting away with a "couple of little bruises but that's all - it was just a bit scary."

The van, which he used to run his cleaning business, was a write-off, but Waite had claimed insurance on it.

He spoke with the driver afterwards who was "quite shaken" by the ordeal.

"He did a very good job," Waite said.

"I could see he was picking up speed and he reversed it up [Airedale St] and then came forward and put his vehicle into the side of the building."

The incident was reported to police about 11.25am.

A police spokeswoman said the truck's brakes had failed and it had rolled backwards into the second vehicle.

Ambulance also attended but no one was taken to hospital.

Ambulance also attended the incident but no one was injured. Photo/ Nick Reed
Ambulance also attended the incident but no one was injured. Photo/ Nick Reed

Bystander Mike Wheelton reckons he arrived not more than five minutes after the incident.

"The guy's a bloody hero," he said.

Wheelton said emergency services told him the truck's drive shaft had broken and it was believed the brakes had also cut out.

A fireman who had happened to witness the entire incident recounted the series of events to Wheelton.

"He backed it round that corner, apparently the truck almost turned over. He hit the building pretty hard which managed to stop the truck," he said.

"They said they could see him steering and he was going backwards [with] no drive shaft and no brakes."

Wheelton, a mechanic, said he could see the truck's drive shaft hanging out after the truck came to a stop.

"It was about lunchtime - if he'd gone down Queen St... it could have been carnage."

The driver was "white as a sheet" when fire services helped him out of the truck's cab, Wheelton said.

"The fire guys got him out of the truck and made sure he was ok.

"They said he was pretty shaken up."

He hadn't had the chance to talk to the man as there had been "cops everywhere" but Wheelton said the fireman he spoke to also called the driver a hero.

"I just thought it was incredible."