A former volunteer firefighter who witnessed a fatal crash in Northland managed to pull two babies out of the mangled wreck but could not free their trapped mum.
Lawrence Anderson and a friend were driving back to Auckland from Maungaturoto along State Highway 1, Topuni, about 8.45pm on Saturday when a silver sedan overtook their vehicle.
He said the silver sedan collided with a north-bound people mover driven by a Northlander with his partner and two children in it.
Janiah Fairburn and her daughter Azarliyah Hadfield died in the crash while the latter's father and 1-year-old brother are recovering from multiple injuries in Auckland and Starship hospitals respectively.
Anderson said the south-bound car spun around and came to a halt while the people mover ended up on a road barrier.
An ambulance heading north arrived at the scene immediately as Anderson and his friend got to the crash site.
"I had trouble getting both babies out. The boy I got out first in his car seat, he was alive and gave him to the ambulance officer. I then managed to free the girl after that," said the employment law advocate from West Harbour.
They administered CPR but the 2-year-old girl could not be resuscitated.
Anderson said the male driver got out and lay on the ground while his partner was trapped and could not be freed.
A third car, he said, pulled up at the crash scene and the driver of the silver sedan and a female passenger got into it and were driven away.
Police took his statement at the scene and he was released about 2.30am but Anderson said he was still waiting to give a formal statement to officers.
A former volunteer firefighter with West Harbour and Titirangi brigades who've come across road crashes in the past, Anderson said he still found it difficult to get over them.
"It's not nice. I feel very terrible for the whanau of those that died," he said.
The funeral for Fairburn and her daughter was held at the Otamatea Marae yesterday.The 19-year-old alleged drink driver of the silver sedan was arrested in Auckland on the night of the crash and faces two charges of driving with excess breath alcohol causing death, and another of failing to stop.
He allegedly blew a breath alcohol level of 768mcg of alcohol per litre of breath.
The man was unable to leave his hospital bed for his appearance in the North Shore District Court on Monday and was remanded in custody at the Auckland Hospital.
He was granted interim name suppression and will re-appear in the Whangārei District Court on Monday.