The passenger in a car which crashed after crossing onto the wrong side of Paihia's main road was critically injured when he was thrown through the windscreen.
The single-vehicle smash occurred about 11pm on Sunday at the intersection of Marsden Rd and Williams Rd when the northbound stationwagon mounted the footpath and hit two hefty wooden bollards on the right-hand side of the road.
The bollards were snapped in two and the vehicle's right-hand front wheel and suspension were ripped off by the impact.
The vehicle, a Mitsubishi Airtrek, then hit a traffic light pole and came to rest on the pedestrian crossing opposite Paihia wharf.
Volunteers of the Paihia Fire Brigade had to use cutting equipment to free the driver and passenger from the wreckage.
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Sergeant Tai Patrick, of Northland police, said the male passenger was critically injured when he was thrown through the windscreen.
The Northland Rescue Helicopter airlifted him to Whangārei Hospital from the nearby Paihia School field.
His condition was not known at edition time yesterday.
The female driver was moderately injured. She was conscious and talking to emergency personnel.
Neither was wearing a seat belt, Patrick said.
The police investigation was continuing.
The crash also damaged the Far North's only traffic lights and a large illuminated table map of the Bay of Islands which had been paid for and installed by community group Focus Paihia.
Paihia fire chief Rex Wilson urged Northlanders to keep to the speed limit, drive safely and to the conditions.
It had been raining on and off when the crash occurred.
Sunday night's crash is just the latest of many in Northland where the injuries were far more severe than they should have been because seatbelts weren't worn.
On May 7, only 10 days earlier, a 66-year-old Kaikohe man died of head injuries received in a single-vehicle crash on Mataraua Rd. He was not wearing a seatbelt.