The police officers who attended today's head-on collision near Taupō were at another crash earlier this month which claimed the lives of five people.

Eight people were killed and a 9-year-old boy is now fighting for his life after a van and SUV collided head-on on State Highway 1 near Atiamuri this morning.

The fatal crash comes after five family members died in a single-vehicle accident on Tirohanga Rd on April 1.

That crash was near the scene of this morning's crash in Atiamuri, north of Taupō, and claimed the lives of three females and two males. An 11-year-old was the sole survivor.

Advertisement

Bay of Plenty Road policing officer Inspector Brent Crowe said the officers at today's crash also attended the one earlier this month.

Inspector Brent Crowe speaks to media at the crash scene where eight people have been killed and a boy critically injured following a head-on crash near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, Taupo. Photo/Ben Fraser
Inspector Brent Crowe speaks to media at the crash scene where eight people have been killed and a boy critically injured following a head-on crash near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, Taupo. Photo/Ben Fraser

"It was pure coincidence that the same road policing section who attended the Tirohanga Rd crash were working and attended today's crash."

Crowe said support was available for staff.

"The team is passionate about road safety and we have a trauma policy in police which is activated for major incidents like this."

National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally told the Herald working on the frontline is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do.

They are the first to arrive and act on the scene when incidents take place and the trauma can affect people differently.

"Frontline is one of the most traumatic jobs you can actually do, given what you see and experience," he told the Herald.

"It's a very, very tough thing to describe. I've been to many [crashes], they are very, very difficult.

Advertisement

"The things you see, hear, smell, the screaming, the predicament people are in are very confronting for people."

Services are in place right across the national police organisation to ensure the wellbeing of their staff, which is hugely important, Greally said.

National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally. Photo / File
National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally. Photo / File

"To join police is a vocation, it's work you want to do to help people knowing full well these sorts of things happen, unfortunately far too often," Greally said.

"There's every chance as a police officer you will be going to one of these horrific things which is something that we do prepare for.

"However, our frontline women and men out there attend them far too often but do an absolutely magnificent job dealing with what can only be described as carnage in a lot of cases."

The crash scene where eight people have been killed. Photo / Ben Fraser
The crash scene where eight people have been killed. Photo / Ben Fraser

Meanwhile, Tokoroa Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Dave Morris said there was no training which can prepare for car crashes.

"You can expect it ... but it's knowing support services are available and can be put in place if required," he said.

Morris said it's still early on and he would touch base with all of his staff who attended the crash.