Two dead after Whakatane car crash (update)

By Katee Shanks

One of the first people on the scene of a double fatality near Nukuhou in the Eastern Bay of Plenty this morning said she told arriving emergency services she was pretty sure both men were dead.

The head-on collision between and 4X4 truck and an east-bound small car happened at 6.30am on State Highway 30 between Waimana and Opotiki. Two people were killed and one person was seriously injured.

The woman, who only wished to be known as Sandy, said she and her husband Don heard an almighty bang as they lay in bed.

Don said he looked out across the paddocks from their bedroom window and could see stationary headlights.

"It took us 5 minutes to get dressed and get over there where we met up with the first on the scene. A Kutarere husband and wife and their daughter had left home headed for Wellington and been the first to come across the crash," Sandy said.

"It was pitch back and they only had a small flashlight so asked if we could shine our big torch into the car and see if the two men inside were alive."

She said it was immediately obvious neither were.

"It was a bit like that ad on television where the passenger has slumped over onto the driver. Both men were squashed quite hard against the dash and window of the car and you could just tell they were dead."

A karakia was performed at the scene by local kaumatua George Hillman before members from the Tauranga Serious Crash Unit began their scene examination.

The car, with both bodies still inside and draped in tarpaulins, was loaded onto the back of a tow truck and taken to a salvage shed in Whakatane.

The men were cut from the car and then taken to a funeral home by hearse.

Sandy said the driver of the truck, believed to be a fencing contractor, was unconscious but came around and was able to provide Sandy with his name.

The man, received multiple injuries and was trapped in the vehicle for over half an hour. He was stabilised at the scene by St John paramedics before being flown to Tauranga Hospital in a serious condition.

"He kept telling us he wanted his seat put upright but we didn't think we should move him."

Sandy said all three men were dressed like they were going to be spending the day outside.

Both vehicles were destroyed in the impact.

Emergency services from Whakatane, Opotiki, Waimana and Taneatua were called to the crash that left a section of the highway closed for four hours.

Whakatane acting Sergeant Mike Haywayd confirmed two men were dead when emergency services arrived at the scene.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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