Warning: Graphic content
A tormented young woman who saw a man fatally hit by a car on a dark rural road says she's traumatised by the grisly accident scene and can't get the sound out of her head.
"I'm going to need a huge amount of therapy. I saw way too much."
Police believe the victim was struck by four separate vehicles north of Tīrau on Saturday night. The woman was just metres from the man during the final "horrific" collision.
It's understood the fourth vehicle was the only one to stop immediately after hitting the man, who suffered terrible injuries and is yet to be identified by police.
"It just doesn't feel right," the woman told the Herald.
"How the hell can three vehicles hit this man and no one stopped? I can't get the sound out of my head.
"I don't know how all these cars could have hit something and kept driving. It just baffles me.
"How the hell can that happen and you don't stop?"
The woman, who the Herald has agreed not to name, said she was travelling from Auckland to Tokoroa on Saturday with her ex-partner.
The pair's car broke down in Mercer but a man travelling south in another vehicle with his 6-year-old son stopped and offered them a lift.
About 8.30pm the group was driving through Pairere, north of Tīrau, when the two men commented "that looks like a guy on the road".
As the moving vehicle slowed, the woman jumped out and ran back up the road, fearing someone could be hurt, but said she couldn't see anything in the "pitch black".
Suddenly a vehicle came roaring past and struck the man who was lying in the middle of the road, directly in front of where the woman was standing.
"I witnessed everything. I was unfortunately pretty much next to the guy when he was run over."
A truck stopped moments later, its headlights illuminating the graphic accident site.
"I was in hysterics," the woman said.
"I was really traumatised. It was a really horrific thing to see."
The woman and her two adult travelling companions signalled for other vehicles to stop to prevent the man from being run over again.
Police and volunteer fire crews from Tīrau and Putāruru arrived, closed the road and began a scene investigation. Bits of another car were found at the crash site, the woman said.
The 6-year-old boy remained inside his father's vehicle, with the dad telling his son someone had struck a horse.
The woman said police informed her another vehicle had been found on the side of the road a few kilometres south with a smashed windscreen. She understands police spoke to the vehicle's driver who told officers they thought they'd hit a pig.
Victim support informed the woman police had yesterday identified another vehicle involved in the accident. Its driver claimed "he didn't know what he had hit until police showed up to tell him".
The woman says she is a recovering addict and has seen her "fair share of bad things".
"But I've never seen anything like that.
"I've had a rough few days. I haven't slept. I can't close my eyes.
"When I saw what I saw I couldn't move. I was screaming and hysterical and can't understand why those cars didn't stop."
Residents along the rural stretch of State Highway 1 were shocked to learn a pedestrian who died near their home had been struck by four separate vehicles.
Pairere resident Heather Baxter said her family noticed lights outside their SH1 property on Saturday night after police blocked the road.
Baxter said they only learned someone had died the next morning.
"It was right outside our gate.
"It's terrible. We just can't believe it."
Baxter said the incident happened on a hill with a double passing lane. It was dark at the time of the accident and there was little room for pedestrians on the roadside verge.
She wondered where the man had been headed, given there was nothing in the area other than beef and dairy farms.
Tīrau councillor Peter Schulte was also shocked when contacted today.
"Oh my God."
Asked about the area where the man was hit, Schulte said: "There is nothing there. It's in the middle of nowhere."
A worker at a local business said it was a strange place to be walking. He recalled seeing an "older homeless guy" hitching in the area from time to time, "but not usually at night".
Police say the man was walking on SH1 towards Tīrau when he was hit by the first vehicle about 8.30pm.
They believe he was then run over by three more vehicles.
Police have identified two of the subsequent vehicles, but are asking for the public to help identify the third vehicle which has been described as a flat-deck ute.
"Police understand that the vehicles that stuck the man were travelling south toward Tīrau at the time of the crash.
"The Serious Crash Unit attended the scene and the identity of the man is yet to be formally determined at this stage."
Anyone with any information that may assist police piece together the events leading up to the incident is urged to contact police quoting file number 220313/9231.
Alternatively, information can be given to Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.