A fatal crash in Taipa on Tuesday afternoon could have been a double fatality if the driver of a parked car had already unclipped his seatbelt.
The collision between a ute and a parked car happened after the driver of the ute failed to take a slight bend in the road.
The Advocate initially reported two utes were in the collision, however, it has since emerged that the second ute was stationary and was damaged, rather than being involved in the crash.
The driver of the ute involved was killed, while the driver of the parked vehicle was moderately injured.
It could have been a double fatality if the ute had crashed into the parked vehicle a moment later, Senior Constable Warren Bunn of the Serious Crash Unit said.
"The other driver had just parked his car, next thing he sees this car coming towards him and bang," Bunn said.
Fortunately, the driver of the parked car had not yet had time to undo his seatbelt.
"If he was halfway in and halfway out of his vehicle, it could've been a double fatality."
Bunn said the ute came off the road and hit the parked car, moving it 15 to 20 metres down the road.
"He just came off the northern end of the Taipa bridge and the road just kinks slightly to the right but he's carried on straight ahead which has taken him across the island and into the parked car."
Police responded to the crash on State Highway 10 near the Z service station just after 3pm on Tuesday. The Mangonui and Kaitāia volunteer fire brigades also attended.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was initially dispatched then stood down en route.
The ute is still to be examined, and the driver's blood alcohol results are yet to be received, Bunn said, but speed was likely involved.
"He seemed to be travelling at some speed for some reason," Bunn said.
Several workers in shops nearby said they heard the crash, but did not see what happened.
"I only saw the aftermath of it all," one said.
"We heard it, thought what the heck was that, went outside, one car was just sitting in the middle of the road, one where it hit, and there was just rubbish everywhere."
Another heard a bang but did not immediately realise what happened.
The fatality brought Northland's road toll for the year to 12 and is the first death in June.
Bunn asked anyone who witnessed the collision to contact police.