A Mt Maunganui logging truck driver smashed the back window of a crashed car and crawled inside to check on the driver who was trapped in the upside-down vehicle.
Ashley Orringe was driving on State Highway 29 yesterday about 3.45am when his headlights picked up an upside-down car that appeared to have hit a bank by the roundabout with Oropi Rd and rolled into a drain.
He arrived a few moments after two cars stopped to help and, after manoeuvring his truck into position to protect the scene from oncoming traffic, moved in to assist.
Orringe said the people who were first on the scene were talking to the driver, the only occupant, through a tiny gap.
He immediately called St John Ambulance, the Fire Service and police and then grabbed a tomahawk-sized sledge hammer from his truck and smashed the overturned car's rear window.
Orringe only needed to crawl part-way into the car to size up the situation. He said the woman was being held upside down by her seat belt.
''I did not like the way her legs were jammed under the dashboard. I thought if I cut the seat belt it could cause more injuries.''
He said the women was not moaning and groaning and he could not see any blood. He asked if she was okay and told her an ambulance was on the way.
The ambulance arrived soon after, followed a few minutes later by the first fire engine.
The emergency services then took over but the woman's position in the crashed car meant that when he left, nearly an hour later, the woman had still not been freed.
''It was the way the car was, they could not get at her. There was not a lot of room to get her out.''
Watching as the firefighters went about their job filled him with admiration. ''They are pretty skilled, these boys. They were awesome.''
Orringe, who drives for Aztec Forest Development, said he had been first on the scene at quite a few crashes, including fatals, during his 28 years as a truck driver. ''I have seen it all.''
Logging truck contractors received a lot of training to prepare them for this sort of thing, but it never got any easier. ''The nasty ones are not very nice - you do what you can.''
Orringe said that because he was on the road all the time, it became part of the job.
Te Puke Brigade's chief fire officer Glenn Williams said getting the driver out of the crashed car turned out to be a bit tricky but they eventually freed her.
''She came out with a few scratches.''
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