Injured pair on roadside lead rescuers to scene of chaos after out-of-control van tumbles 15m from highway

Sikh priests were urgently ushered into the intensive care unit to pray for the most critically injured victims of the Hawkes Bay crash that injured eight members of one family.

"Traumatised" family members called the elders to Hawkes Bay Regional Hospital to administer recuperative prayers to 5-month-old Manmeet Singh and his father Jagtar Singh, who remain seriously ill.

The crash, in which the family's van plunged 15 metres down a cliff and "pancaked" upside-down, happened yesterday morning on State Highway 5 about 80km from Napier.

The family were returning from Auckland after picking up Jagtar, his wife Sukhwinder Kaur, their two daughters aged 9 and 8, and baby Manmeet from Melbourne.


Jagtar's brother Sandeep had been driving the van, having driven from Havelock North to pick up the family and take them home.

Gurmeet Singh, a former Sikh priest who has been helping out at the Ravidas Temple in Hastings, said he and another priest were called to the hospital yesterday to pray for the victims.

"The family are traumatised. It was a serious crash ... sometimes it happens, we make mistakes. The family is quite close to me.

"We gave prayers to help them get better, to help for their recovery and with ongoing support," he said.

It was expected Jagtar would be flown to the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch today, Mr Singh said.

The five Melbourne-based family members were in New Zealand to celebrate the birth of Manmeet, the first son in the family.

Sandeep is understood to have been thrown from the van with Manmeet, where a passing motorist found them on the roadside and notified emergency services about the van at the bottom of the cliff.

The six others were winched to safety, and all eight were taken to hospital.


Jagtar this morning remained in a critical condition but Manmeet's condition had improved overnight to serious but stable.

A 9-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl, a woman in her 30 and a man in his 30s were serious but stable.

A man in his 40s and a man in his 20s were described as being in stable condition.