A passer-by comforted a trapped and critically injured woman at a crash scene near Masterton yesterday after watching as her car was almost torn in half during a high-speed collision with a milk tanker.
Masterton builder Scott Taylor, who came across the crash on SH2 between Masterton and Carterton, said he had been expecting to find bodies in the mangled wreckage but after searching alongside other helpers had discovered the woman was alone in her vehicle.
He had been about three cars behind the south-bound tanker, he said, and watched as the vehicles collided. Mr Taylor was first to the scene alongside another man and a woman, who called emergency services about 8.30am.
"The instance of it was just brake lights and cars. Then the shock wave, the boom, you could almost see it. It was a hell of a mess," he said.
"I jumped out of the car and ran over to the woman, and to see if there was anyone else in there. Myself and another guy were with her, talking to her.
"He was holding her head from behind and we were worried she could have been impaled. It was just carnage.
"She had blood on her face from lacerations, and bruising. There was lots of car fluids and battery acid and the risk of an explosion was in the back of my mind, that was the freakiest thing," Mr Taylor said.
"One side of the car was all open and the other side was shut, but we just couldn't get the door open," he said.
"I was expecting to find bodies - death - and was just worried there was a kid or someone else in the back.
"There was stuff strewn everywhere and the back of the car was ripped in half, but there were no passengers. When the paramedics got there, I just left them to do their thing."
Wairarapa traffic Sergeant Chris Megaw said the woman, 65, was critically injured in the collision. She was the only occupant of the northbound Mitsubishi stationwagon and was airlifted to Wellington Hospital. The woman was last night listed in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Mr Megaw said the truck driver was shaken but unharmed.
"The Fonterra truck was unladen and was heading south. He has gone on to the side of the road to evade the woman's northbound vehicle.
"Numerous witnesses reported her crossing the centre line before she collided head-on and went down the side of the tanker. The damage to both vehicles was extensive."
Mr Megaw said traffic Traffic Safe detoured traffic for the morning, while the scene was cleared and a crane hoisted the crippled tanker from the site. A Serious Crash Unit investigation had been launched.
Carterton Fire Chief Wayne Robinson said two Carterton fire crews and a crew from Masterton were called to the scene along with paramedics and police.
"The car had been almost split in half and she was seriously trapped. The whole motor and dash had come in around her and it took at least 20 minutes for two teams to get her out."
He said the woman had been semi-conscious while firefighters freed her and paramedics stabilised her ready to be airlifted aboard the Life Flight Westpac rescue helicopter.