A Dargaville man who survived a crash on an isolated Northland road was astonished to then be attacked by a pitbull dog while trying to rescue his wife from the vehicle.
The man, believed to be in his 60s, had to be taken to hospital after the attack - because of his injuries from the dog rather than the crash - and the situation has appalled residents who came across the accident scene.
The driver, who did not want to be named, said the dog took a chunk about two inches square from his leg. He said his wife was "battered and bruised" after the accident but not too badly hurt.
The accident happened about 11km up Tangowahine Valley Rd, north of Dargaville, about 9.30am on Saturday when the vehicle is believed to have lost control in fog, flown through the air and hit a tree, before landing on its wheels in a paddock.
The driver got out of the car to check on his wife, then went to seek help when he realised she was not badly injured. Nearby resident Hugh Rose was one of the first on the scene with his tractor to tow the vehicle out, but his initial delight that there were no serious injuries soon turned to horror.
Mr Rose said that as the man went back towards the car to help his wife "this bloody pitbull came from the place next door and latched on to his leg".
"It came from the property about 50 to 100 metres away and attacked him.
"It caused a bit of damage and he was bleeding."
He said the man seemed to have sustained more damage from the dog attack than from the accident.
Mr Rose and the man chased the dog away and police were called, who then got the dog taken away by animal control staff.
"It's lucky the dog didn't get to his wife in the car first. She wouldn't have been able to defend herself at all," Mr Rose said.
"It was pretty distressing, but what was even more upsetting was that the people in the house [where the dog came from] didn't come to render any assistance, either for the accident or their dog attacking the man."
He said the man was treated at the scene by ambulance staff then taken to hospital.
"He was bleeding pretty badly from the leg. I was quite amazed, he was trying to help his wife but had to fend off this dog that attacked him.
"It was unbelievable that the people who owned this dangerous dog didn't even offer any help at all," Mr Rose said.
"It's not a nice thing to see happen, an accident then a man attacked by a dog."
He said what was worrying was that there were young children at the house and the dog appeared to have chewed its way through its lead before attacking the man.