Driver ends centre stage after car crashes into West Coast's Ngahere Hall

By Brendon McMahon

The state of the flattened car after it ended up wedged underneath the stage in the Ngahere Hall. Photo / Greymouth Star
The state of the flattened car after it ended up wedged underneath the stage in the Ngahere Hall. Photo / Greymouth Star

The old Ngahere Hall has survived the indignity of a car crashing through the wall to end up wedged under the stage.

A woman driving through the township apparently went to sleep at the wheel of her station wagon before crossing the centre line and driving right through the side of the solid rimu building, clad in corrugated iron.

Ngahere Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Tommy Daly said the drama unfolded about 5pm when the car, driven by a woman in her 60s, crashed off State highway 7 and into the roadside hall.

The hole in the side of the Ngahere Hall, where the car became wedged under the stage. Photo / Greymouth Star
The hole in the side of the Ngahere Hall, where the car became wedged under the stage. Photo / Greymouth Star

"I'm pretty sure she must have been asleep at the wheel. The first person to ever drive into the Ngahere Hall and park under the stage," Mr Daly said.

The woman was trapped as the car was wedged tightly under the stage.

With the car engine still running and with steam everywhere and the driver pinned under the steering wheel it was obvious the woman could not be extracted immediately given the tight space, so the brigade deployed a couple of 4x4 vehicles to pull the car out before the Greymouth brigade emergency response unit arrived and helped extract the driver from the wreckage.

Mr Daly said it was lucky a first responder from Reefton was driving through Ngahere at the time on her way home and was able to give valuable assistance until St John arrived.

The driver was conscious and calm throughout but could not be freed until the steering wheel was removed to unpin her legs and the roof cut off her vehicle.

Mr Daly said the hall might be old and due for demolition anyway, but it was built of solid rimu "and built to last".

"She's still quite solid."

Greymouth prevention sergeant Paul Watson said a car driven by a female tourist had to take evasive action when another car crossed the centre line on to the wrong side of the road.

The driver involved was taken to hospital with minor injuries, while the tourist in the rental vehicle was unharmed.

- Greymouth Star

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