Local residents who assisted in retrieving a stranded truck containing the bodies of two men in the Eastern Bay of Plenty have been praised by the regional council.

The men, identified as Opotiki residents Gordon Douglas Nelson, 67 and Frederick Michael Ruff, 70, died when the tow truck they were in crashed 25 metres down a bank on Thursday.

The incident occurred on the remote Takaputahi Rd, Toatoa, east of Opotiki, when the pair were on a return trip from recovering a stranded vehicle.

Adrian Heays, of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, said several locals - including one man who offered up his bulldozer - helped staff from the regional council when they arrived at the crash site.


When staff found the tow truck, it was leaking diesel and hydraulic fluid into a stream which feeds into the Motu River.

Local residents brought drums to help with the situation and assisted in putting booms into the stream, Mr Heays said.

"A local offered the use of his bulldozer and went some distance to find a driver. Once the brakes were unlocked we could tow the truck without gouging the stream bed and get it right out of the water."

The truck probably had up to 200 litres of diesel and 200 litres of hydraulic fluid on board, some of which had escaped into the stream before the response team got to the scene, Mr Heays said.

"The local people who live in the area were amazing and really helped us out, especially Paul Waghorne, Tony Calhoun and Weka who came to drive the bulldozer.

"We wouldn't have been able to complete the job without them."

18 Apr, 2014 4:30pm
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While the cause of the crash is being investigated, police have already said weather appeared to be a factor.