Moments after the car he was in collided with a truck, a young man covered in blood sat on the side of the road in shock, as the car with his friends inside burst into flames.

One of the first people at the scene after the crash - on King Edward St in Dunedin, in the early hours of Saturday - has described the horrific aftermath and the words that the surviving occupant said to her.

Abbey Reid and her partner were woken after hearing a loud smash outside their home about 3.30am.

When she opened the curtains, she saw that a car had collided with a rubbish truck and the couple rushed outside.

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Reid was on the phone to emergency services when she suddenly spotted a young man coming towards her. He was covered in blood and was visibly in shock.

"I said: 'Are you okay'? He said: 'I was in the car ... my friends are in there'.

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Emergency services at the scene of the double fatality on King Edward St, Dunedin, early on Saturday, July 4. Photo / ODT
Emergency services at the scene of the double fatality on King Edward St, Dunedin, early on Saturday, July 4. Photo / ODT

"I think he was really lost. He seemed to have smacked his head really hard," she told the Herald.

"There was blood all over his face - if he walked down the road, I wouldn't recognise him.

"He was out of it - massive state of shock."

She said she and her partner could hear nothing else but the two motors running and could not see anyone in the car.

Motors sounded 'scary' - like something was about to happen

"It sounded really, really scary. You knew something bad was about to happen."

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She guessed it had been about two to three minutes after they had rushed out of the house and spotted the surviving occupant when the situation suddenly escalated.

"He was just saying (that his friends were inside still) when the car just lit up."

Reid acknowledged she and her partner had been feeling a lot of regret as a result; and the possibility that they could have done more to help those inside.

"My partner and I are quite annoyed ourselves. We just couldn't hear anything else," she said.

The driver of the truck tried desperately to douse the flames with a handheld fire extinguisher before firefighters arrived at the scene.

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Reid said she happened to recognise the truck driver who sometimes picked up the skip at her workplace.

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"He's a lovely guy."

The surviving car occupant was taken to hospital with serious conditions while the truck driver, who initially suffered moderate injuries, was discharged from hospital later that day.

Police later confirmed two people had been killed in the collision.

The victims have since been identified as friends and workmates Josiah Mani, originally from Papua New Guinea, and Christchurch man William Quin, who was studying at the University of Otago.

Reid, aged 21, said although she did not recognise the names of the two young men killed; she said she understood they were around her age and therefore sent messages of love and condolences to their families.

She also had a message for the surviving friend.

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"I hope he's okay and he knows that nothing was his fault. You can only do so much."

'An amazing, humble person'

It is understood that all three men in the car worked at Mainland Poultry in Waikouaiti and that one of them had had their last day there on Friday.

A close friend of one of the men said it was like losing his own son.

Dallas Wade described Mani as "an amazing, humble person" who did not have much, but gave whatever he had to others.

"I'm still in shock, really," Wade said.

"I was a bit of dad to him. It's very devastating."

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Wade paid tribute to a young man, originally from Papua New Guinea, who worked hard to provide for his family back home.

He had teamed up with the rugby club Mani was a part of - the Kia Toa Tigers - to raise funds to help repatriate his body back to PNG.

"He worked hard to support his family here and at home in Papua New Guinea and now Josiah needs our help to return him home and funeral costs," Wade said.

The club has set up a Givealittle page to help with the fundraising effort and have named the page: Josiah Mani - Lets get you home.

Just before 2pm today, just over $7200 had been raised.

Among those who have donated are friends, colleagues and teammates who have described Mani as a humble young man who was a mate to all.

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"You touched many people with your carefree easy-going nature," one wrote.

"Rest in love and peace, mate. Until we meet again."