Passengers on a bus packed with tourists from Asia involved in a horrific deadly crash were left dazed, confused and covered in injuries.
One person died and 16 people were injured in the crash involving a tour bus and two cars - including a police car - on SH1 near Warkworth on Saturday evening.
A resident who was first on the scene said the three-vehicle crash site looked like a “bomb had gone out”.
“There was debris everywhere, the car was all smashed, from under the seats everything was damaged,” Warkworth woman Shelley James said.
“A police car was also there, it looked as though it had hit the car.
“I also saw a tour bus on the opposite side of the road trapped in the tree. The driver’s side was crushed with smoke coming out.
“There was another tour bus which was not damaged.”
James said she saw around 40 people come out of the bus looking “dazed” and “confused”.
“They were shocked, most of them were of Asian descent and did not speak much English. They were covered in bruises and one lady had a huge bump on her head. They didn’t wear seatbelts on the bus so they would have gotten hurt on impact.”
James said she heard someone say “what an end to a holiday”.
“I just went to help mode ... I just thought if my kids had been in an accident I would want someone to help.
“The police officer was wrapped in a towel and looked upset.
“My heart goes out to the person who died.”
A majority of the 16 people injured were tourists.
“The bus involved was a tour bus, not a regular passenger bus,” a police spokeswoman told the Herald.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said in a tweet the SH1 reopened at 2.30am after being closed due to the crash.
Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan said yesterday one person had died in the crash.
“The vehicles involved were a bus and two other vehicles, one of which was a Police patrol vehicle,” Hassan said.
“Shortly before the crash, staff in the patrol vehicle had observed another vehicle travelling at excess speed on SH1.
“Our initial information is that they signalled for it to stop, at which point it veered suddenly and collided with the bus.”
The driver of that car died.
St John said it treated 16 injured people; including two who had serious injuries. The police officer suffered moderate injuries.
The injured people were taken to Auckland City Hospital and North Shore Hospital.
A Te Whatu Ora Waitematā spokesperson said 13 people received care at the North Shore Hospital emergency department after the incident. All had been discharged by 10am on Sunday.
Hassan said the bus was carrying about 40 passengers.
“Police staff will now work to support all of those involved in the crash,” she said.
“The Serious Crash Unit is examining the scene and will establish the full circumstances of what has occurred.
“The IPCA will also be notified.”