Two "good Samaritans" dived into the Waikato River yesterday to help save a woman after the car she was travelling in crashed into the river.

The car's male driver died in the incident off Riverbank Rd, Mercer, about 1.30pm. Members of the Wellington-based police dive team were at the scene last night trying to recover his body.

The female passenger managed to escape from the car, which travelled about 150m down the river before going under the surface.

Two men who witnessed the scene jumped into the river and helped her to safety.


Senior sergeant Mark Chivers, of Counties Manukau police, last night appealed for the good samaritans to come forward. The only description police had of the pair was that they were Asian men.

Chivers said it was too early to say what caused the car to crash into the river. The police serious crash unit is investigating.

An earlier police statement said officers had used a boat to help stabilise the car.

A man working at the local service station, Taylor Puru, said he was alerted to the fatal crash after a man ran from the site of the accident to the forecourt looking for help.

"He asked this guy with a boat on his trailer to come over to the river. He was in a real rush."

Another local, who did not want to be named, said there was grey "car wreckage" along the side of the river where rescuers were working.

"There is bits of car everywhere."

She said that stretch of road was a common thoroughfare and the river got deep quite quickly there.

She did not believe local residents were involved.

The man was one of two people to die in crashes yesterday.

A person died in the afternoon after the car they were driving collided with a truck on State Highway 29, Lower Kaimai, near Tauranga.