Residents and passersby rallied in vain to save a 72 year old man who was fatally hit by a car in Onekawa.

A section of Maadi Rd near the shopping centre remained closed for nearly two hours as police and paramedics attended a fatal crash about 4pm today.

It's understood the man was one of three crossing the road.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous said she didn't see the crash happen, but she certainly saw the aftermath.

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"I rushed out to where he was lying on the road. I used to be a medic up in Auckland, so I knew what to do," she said.

The man lived locally, and enjoyed spending time in the area.

"This was his spot, he used to sit on the seat outside the shops most days, he was well known, a really lovely guy."

"It's so unfortunate, but I'm just glad he's at peace."

The witness said a number of people rushed to help the man.

"The ambulance was delayed on the expressway, so we did what we could, some people brought blankets to cover him up and keep him comfortable."

A shop owner said she didn't see the accident happen but said she saw a number of people rush over to assist the man.

"One of my customers ran out along with a few others and covered the man with a blanket, then they called the ambulance," she said.

The ambulance left the scene around 5pm and a tow truck arrived a short time later to remove the damaged vehicle.

Acting Senior Sergeant Steve Nicoll said his thoughts were with the man's friends and family.

It was understood that the man was using the pedestrian crossing, but Nicoll said police were unable to confirm it.

"I can't confirm at this point whether he was on the pedestrian crossing, staff spoke to a number of witnesses at the scene and none of them saw the crash occur."

Police are now requiring the assistance of the public and have asked for people to contact the Hawke's Bay Serious Crash Unit if they have any further information (06) 831 0700.

In Hawke's Bay, including Napier and Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay districts, six people have died on the roads this year.