A shocking video of a body bag falling out of a hearse at a busy Auckland intersection has gone viral and been picked up by international media.
The driver, who captured the macabre moment on dashcam footage, and a nearby petrol station worker told the Herald they believed a body was on the gurney as it rolled through the busy intersection.
However, the funeral company is adamant the body bag was empty at the time.
The reason it looks like a body was inside was because of a pillow and metal bar, Davis Funerals managing director Craig Little said.
"We have a vinyl square pillow to lay people's head and at the foot-end of that stretcher there is a metal bar that can look like people's feet," he told the Herald.
The footage was picked up by Australian, UK and US media.
The New York Post reported "a body bag makes a run for it" and to "watch out for corpses crossing".
Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) chief executive Katrina Shanks is adamant that it would not have happened if there was a body inside. She said it was a rare mistake.
Dashcam footage shows a hearse with its boot flying open as it rounded a corner at the intersection of Sandringham Rd and Balmoral Rd yesterday.
Following closely behind is what the motorist thought was a body wrapped in a black body bag on a gurney, which rolls through the intersection at speed before coming to a halt at the side of the road.
The hearse, its boot still open, pulls up in front of the gurney and the driver runs out with his phone pressed to his ear.
The driver then picks up the body bag and puts it back in the hearse.
He is helped by a passing motorcyclist.
The hearse driver was returning to the funeral home on Dominion Rd with an empty body bag, Little said, but had unfortunately failed to close the boot properly before driving off.
When he accelerated at the intersection, the stretcher fell out.