A child is dead and and five others are seriously injured - two critically - following a crash between two vehicles in Canterbury today.

A man who pulled the dead child from the vehicle wreckage has described the horrifying scene near St Andrews.

Tim Nalley, whose cottage is on State Highway 1, south of the town, described hearing a loud crash, before adrenaline took over and he ran to the scene of the fatal accident between a car heading north with two children and two adults, and an SUV heading south carrying two passengers.

"I came flying out to see if anyone needed help, and me and another fellow actually ripped the car's door off to get this little one out but it must have died.

Advertisement

"It was all blue. I checked to see if had a pulse but it didn't. The eyes were all dilated," he said.

"I'm trying not to cry here."

Mr Nalley, who had trained with St John, said he'd been trying to get the speed limit dropped on the road where the crash occurred for the five years he'd lived there.

"I've got a little 8-year-old who plays out the front. I'm going to be moving his playground tomorrow because it's in the paddock beside the road and that car could have ended up in there."

He said people came round a sharp corner too fast. In the five years he'd lived on the road there'd been four major accidents, he said.

The car had a huge dent in the passenger side. "That's where the poor little child was."

There were two kids, both no older than about two, in the back. Mr Nally and another man propped up the head of the surviving child, but removed the dead child from the car.

"We just had to put a blanket overtop."

Advertisement

He said a male driver and a female passenger were also badly injured.

Police were called to the scene of the crash about 2.45pm yesterday.

Two people were in a critical condition. One - believed to be the car's male driver - was transported to Christchurch Hospital by helicopter, and another to Timaru Hospital.

Three other people were taken to Timaru Hospital with serious injuries, police said.
The child's death had been referred to the coroner.