An elderly Waihī man has described his brush with death in stunning detail after his car flipped while travelling along State Highway 2.

The 14th of April "should have been the day I died," 86-year-old Noel Ford said.

"In fact, my heart did stop. I actually died at wheel."

The grandfather was driving along SH2 and crashed about 500m north of Wolseley Rd near the turnoff to Tanners Point just north of Katikati.


With more than 70 years of driving experience and thousands of kilometres clocked up, Ford said he still can't believe that he was alive to tell the story of how the flipping car saved his life.

Noel Ford. Photo / Supplied.
Noel Ford. Photo / Supplied.

Ford and his wife of nearly 60 years, Rosalie, had six children together and went on to raise one of their grandchildren, too.

Rosie died in March last year and Ford still does his best to see the new additions to their extended family just as she would have loved to, he said.

"My beautiful Rosie just loved babies and when a new wee soul arrived in our family we always did our best to try and visit."

Ford and his granddaughter Gina had been visiting family in Tauranga that day to see the latest great-grandson, Josh.

The pair were buckled up and heading home with his two small dogs, Roxy and Bella, when Gina's car flipped with Ford behind the wheel.

"Angels were looking after me that day," Ford said, who renews his driver's licence every two years.

Ford said 20 minutes into the journey his heart stopped without warning.


"I was literally dead at the wheel."

The car was travelling at 90km when the vehicle coasted off the highway and landed upturned on its roof, he said.

Ford said it fell short less than a meter off the road, where traffic travelling in the same direction could have easily ploughed into it.

"Its a miracle," Ford said.

He said the car flipping was what restarted his heart.

He said he awoke to his granddaughter kicking out the driver's side window.

Both dogs were on leashes and survived unharmed.

Gina received minor seat belt grazing but was otherwise fine, he said.

Ford is a Christian and thanked God for not "ending up being a corpse next to his granddaughter had she driven home".

He said his family are grateful to have him here longer and he said he is very grateful to the emergency services that attended the accident and the staff at the Tauranga Hospital emergency department.