Police said speed appeared to be a factor in a car crash at Cape Foulwind yesterday afternoon which left a 19-year-old Canterbury man dead.

The deceased, who has yet to be named, was a passenger in a car with four other occupants, including a 17-year-old driver, when it left the Tauranga Bay Road about 4pm.

Police said the Subaru hurtled through 20m of scrub after leaving the road on a sweeping right-hand curve above the Holcim cement quarry at Omau.

Two of the passengers were from Buller.

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The serious crash unit was at the scene this morning to try to determine what went wrong.

Marks on the road and evidence the vehicle had pushed its way through 20m of scrubby bush before flying over a bank and landing upside down indicated speed was a likely factor, West Coast police response manager senior sergeant Phil Barker said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash and police were interviewing the driver today.

A 16-year-old boy suffered a broken leg in the crash and he was airlifted to Grey Base Hospital by the NZCC Rescue Helicopter. The other occupants -- aged 15, 17 and 18 -- were taken to Buller Hospital with minor injuries and later discharged.

St John Buller territory manager Robbie Blankenstein said the dead man initially survived the crash but died at the scene while being treated.