A truck which hit a rail bridge in Whangarei and rolled on to its side narrowly missed a man waiting to cross the road.

Kevin Middleton was standing on the road near the base of the bridge on Rust Ave when he saw the truck hit the bridge about 11am on Saturday.

"It dropped right down in front of me."

"Just that extra foot and a half and I'd have been squashed. I'd have been killed. It was my lucky day."

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Mr Middleton said the PBT truck had turned right out of the Forum North carpark towards the town centre. The top left hand side of the truck clipped the bridge and the truck rolled on to the wrong side of the road towards him and a parked car.

A crane was brought in to lift the truck back onto its wheels before it was towed away. Photo/Supplied
A crane was brought in to lift the truck back onto its wheels before it was towed away. Photo/Supplied

He said after a brief moment where he couldn't quite believe what had happened "reality kicked back in" and he went to check on the truck driver.

Mr Middleton said the driver, who was wearing his seatbelt, was badly shaken but not injured.

He said other people also came to check on the driver and one man was lifted on to the side of the truck to open the passenger door and help the driver out.

"It was a lucky day with no people and no traffic coming. Nobody would have stood a chance."

Mr Middleton said a crane was brought it to lift the truck back on to its wheels.

"The biggest damage was getting it upright."

He said initially the crane dragged the truck out from the bridge, before righting it.

Mr Middleton said a van parked nearby had to be moved out of the way in order to right the truck.

He said there was "no great big mess" and only one item fell out of the curtain-sider during the ordeal.

The truck was towed away on a "very large tow truck".

Mr Middleton said he is unsure whether the driver would have seen the height clearance sign as he turned out of the carpark. He thought the flashing sign should be angled so that vehicles leaving the carpark could see it easily.

Police said the angle of the bridge and the angle the man hit it likely caused him to tip over.

Police said the driver may face charges.

The road was closed for around an hour and a half while the crane righted the truck.