Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Cruise ship passenger killed in bicycle crash near Tauranga bridge

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A visiting American was killed while riding her bike in Tauranga, emergency services attended the scene. Photo/George Novak
A visiting American was killed while riding her bike in Tauranga, emergency services attended the scene. Photo/George Novak

A cruise ship passenger on a cycling tour was hit by a truck and killed near the Tauranga Harbour Bridge onramp on Dive Cres.

Emergency services were called to the crash at the Dive Cres, Mirrielees Rd junction shorly after midday yesterday but the 71-year-old visitor from the United States died at the scene.

No one else was injured.

Traffic was blocked from entering the Tauranga Harbour Bridge at Sulphur Pt as police interviewed the truck driver and witnesses and cleared the scene.

It was believed the woman was cycling across the junction onto the bridge when she was hit by a truck.

The woman was a passenger on Celebrity Solstice, which had berthed in Tauranga at 8am on Monday, and was on a bike tour yesterday with Harbourside Cycle: Surf and Colonial Explorer shore excursion with several other passengers.

Police swarmed the scene of the crash and were soon joined by Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne, cruise ship personnel and a representative from Renaissance Tours, which organised Royal Caribbean onshore activities.

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, which operated Celebrity Cruises, said the company wished to extend their condolences to the family and friends of the woman.

"A member of our Care Team is providing support and assistance to her family. Our thoughts are with her family and friends and we will continue to do our very best to assist them."

The woman was believed to be sailing with her husband.

Renaissance Tours managing director Tony Petrie said the accident was "absolutely shocking".

New Zealanders loved having guests and entertaining visitors and for an accident to happen was extremely sad - "it's like having guests around for dinner and something happens to them".

He said the biking tour company Freewheeling Tours was reputable and had a robust operating plan, which was double checked.

"We have every confidence in them," Petrie said.

"Our hearts go out to the victims. It's absolutely dreadful, we know this will be absolutely shocking for them. We hope they get all the help they possibly can to help them through."

Freewheeling Tours Limited director Susanna Shelton said the company was working closely with police to assist their investigation.

"The safety of our visitors and guides is our number one priority and we are committed to providing a safe, professional service at all times."

Cycling tours were suspended while investigations were under way.

Dunne was at the scene working with her team to support those involved.

"Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go to the deceased and her family at this time. Our focus is on doing everything we can to help the police with their investigations," Dunne said.

The safety and well-being of tourists visiting the region were of utmost importance to Tourism Bay of Plenty, she said.

The crash site was cleared and opened to motorists at 3.40pm, more than three hours after the accident.

Other cyclists coming past the chaotic scene crowded with emergency vehicles, looked concerned.

They were confused as to how they would get to Mt Maunganui, but were redirected by police to the railroad bridge or the second harbour bridge pedestrian and bike path entrance.

A witness who drove past the scene just after it happened said the cyclist was laying in the road and someone had covered her with a blanket.

The Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit and Serious Crash Unit were investigating the crash.

Celebrity Solstice
• Celebrity Solstice is sailing a 12-night itinerary, calling in to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Tauranga, Auckland and Bay of Islands.
•The ship has 2850 passengers and 1250 crew.
•North Americans have strong brand association with the Celebrity brand and tend to make up a good portion of its voyages to New Zealand.

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