A rental car flew through a safety barrier and landed in a ditch killing three people and seriously injuring two others in a horrific crash which caused a second vehicle to combust into flames killing its only occupant.
The quadruple fatal on SH2 in Netherton in the Eastern Waikato at about 7.40pm on Saturday night is one of four accidents over the weekend, which have left eight people dead and boosted the road toll for the year to 174.
The white Toyota Corolla landed in a ditch killing three people and seriously injuring its two other occupants. The people are understood to be French nationals and a source told the Herald they were travelling in a rental car.
A Waikato DHB spokesperson said the two survivors, both men in their 30s, were in a serious but stable condition on Sunday night. One was being treated for in the Intensive Care Unit and the other was in the High Dependency ward.
Waikato road policing manager inspector Marcus Lynam said the serious crash unit was still investigating, but initial indications were that one vehicle ended up in a ditch and the other later caught fire as a result of the impact from the crash.
Lynam said it was a "terrible and tragic time for the families" of the people who had died and offered his condolences.
It was also tough on the first responders and drivers who had to deal with the aftermath.
Fire Eastern Waikato area commander Aaron Waterreus, who attended the accident on Saturday night, on SH2 near Netherton described it as a "high speed crash in very foggy conditions".
"The impact of the accident sort of threw the other vehicle across the safety barrier and down into a ditch and that was the vehicle where the three people were killed," he said.
"The white car was down in a ditch and the other car was up on the road and well involved in fire when our crews arrived."
Waterreus said the person in the BMW which exploded into flames had been trapped in the car.
The driver of the Toyota who was one of two who survived the accident and had to be helped out of the car.
"The crews arrived to obviously quite a nasty accident. A vehicle on fire and another vehicle down in a ditch with people trapped. Quite a high pressure situation for our people to arrive at," he said.
Firefighters from Ngatea had been called into assist the Paeroa brigade because it was a "nasty accident with multiple entrapments".
Wattereus said attending any road accident was unpleasant and one where fire was involved made it even worse.
"We probably had about 25 people [the majority volunteers from Paeroa and Ngatea] who would have touched that scene one way or another last night."
National manager road policing superintendent Steve Greally said seven road deaths (excluding the pedestrian being struck in Gisborne) in the past 24 hours was "pretty bloody horrific".
"It's absolutely tragic that we've lot so many people especially in the last 24 hours - it is almost unheard of in this country.
"Speaking generally I know there have been foggy conditions up north for the last couple of days and in foggy conditions we have to be extra vigilant to make sure that we watch our speed - particularly our speed..."
A spokesperson for the Embassy of France in Wellington said there was no comment at this time when asked whether the embassy was assisting police.
The horror weekend kicked off when a Gisborne woman died after she was hit by a car on Cobden St.
Then at about 1am on Saturday morning a two car crash on Dairy Flat Highway claimed the lives of Ricky Barker, 18, and Andre Ahman, 20. A man in his 20s who was travelling in the second vehicle was also seriously injured in the crash.
A woman died in a crash in the Far North at 12.30pm on Saturday on SH10 at Kaingaroa, north of Kaitaia when the vehicle went off the road and flipped on to its roof. Two children in the same car were injured.