A young cyclist is in a coma in Auckland City Hospital after being struck by a ute in Ruakākā early yesterday morning.
The collision was the first of two major events on Northland's roads yesterday. A second separate incident hours later ended with a man in custody after he crashed into multiple vehicles then fled on foot in Maunu, near Whangārei Hospital.
A 22-year-old was cycling north on Marsden Point Rd towards their work when they were struck by a ute headed in the same direction on the 100km/h stretch of road around 6.45am.
Senior Constable Warren Bunn, of the police serious crash unit, said the cyclist was clipped by the front left-hand side of the ute, leaving them with life-threatening injuries.
Three ambulances and the Northland Emergency Services Trust helicopter responded to the emergency where the patient was flown in a critical condition to Auckland City Hospital.
Bunn said the time of day and absence of street lights meant it was dark when the cyclist was hit.
Investigators did not locate a helmet or bike lights at the scene.
RoadSafe Northland programme manager Ashley Johnston said helmets for cyclists and motorcyclists must be worn at all times, and rear and front lights on cycles are required in dark conditions - 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.
"Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing when cycling - you'll be easier to see."
Johnston's advice to motorists sharing the road with cyclists in poor or low-light conditions was to slow down and be alert because they can be hard to see
"People on bicycles are more vulnerable on the road as they are less protected than other road users. Because of this, you should be alert and drive carefully when near them."
Later yesterday, in a separate incident, police arrested a man who had allegedly struck multiple cars on Maunu Rd before he fled on foot in the direction of Whangārei Hospital.
A witness said they heard the sound of a hub cap hitting the road around 10.30am.
They turned to see a Nissan Safari 4x4 vehicle with a flat back tyre being driven down the median strip of Maunu Rd headed in the direction of the hospital.
The witness, who did not want to be named, said the driver did not stop when traffic lights at the Hospital and Maunu Rd intersection turned red.
A car turning right on to Maunu Rd at the same traffic lights was struck on its right-hand side by the off-road vehicle equipped with a large towbar at its front.
"He hit it hard and it bounced out of the way and then bam he hit the second car," the man said. "The lights went green and those poor people never saw him coming."
The 4x4 then went up on to the footpath next to the lane of oncoming traffic before hitting a traffic light, bending it backwards.
The witness said the driver quickly got out of the vehicle and took off on foot towards the hospital with a small number of bystanders giving chase.
Officers successfully located the alleged driver but did not disclose where he was found.
At the Maunu Rd and State Highway 1 intersection closer to town police spoke to the occupants of a car with damage to the back of the vehicle.
The car was believed to be linked to the same incident.
Meanwhile, police will be out on the roads of Northland this long weekend targeting drivers who put themselves and others at risk.
Police are reminding drivers to slow down, minimise distractions by putting their phone down, and buckle up.
"We want to ensure everyone can enjoy their Easter holiday plans, and return home safely," Inspector Pete Jones, acting director National Road Policing Centre, said.
"To make sure that happens, road safety starts before you get behind the wheel – are you well rested, have you eaten and are you hydrated?
"Once you're in the car, don't speed, drive to the conditions, wear your seatbelt and be patient. There will be a lot of traffic on the road so be courteous and keep a safe following distance.
''Slow down, drive sober, wear your seatbelt, and minimise distractions.''