The man who survived a Christmas Day crash that claimed the lives of two teenage sisters has told of seeing two cars racing towards him in the seconds before the smash.
Shortly before 4.20pm, as Brett McCready, 39, was driving his red Mitsubishi ute along rural Welcome Bay Rd, near Tauranga, to his father's Ohauiti home for Christmas dinner, he saw two vehicles - a Mitsubishi Lancer and a maroon Honda - speeding towards him.
"I saw the Lancer and the Honda come around the corner and the next thing the Honda just cut in front, lost control and over the next three to five seconds he was on both sides of the road.
"They would have been going 160km/h, easily, and if I was just three seconds down the road, he would have killed me instantly," said Mr McCready, speaking exclusively to the Weekend Herald.
"After [the Honda] cut back in front of them, he just started squiggling. The squiggles got bigger and bigger and in the end, there was a bank to my left, a bank to my right and there was nowhere to go - the car just came sideways at me.
"All I was doing was slowing, concentrating, trying to find somewhere to go to avoid the accident ... but the car went sideways, had both sides of the road, and I had nowhere to go."
He braced seconds before the impact, and had his foot hard on the brakes as the Honda hit his ute.
Mr McCready remembers seeing his steering wheel and dashboard pushed towards him.
"I thought the car had rolled over me, but it had pushed the ute backward and flipped it."
Sisters Merepeka and Brooklyn Morehu-Clark, 14 and 13, were in the back seat of the Honda and died at the scene. They were not wearing seatbelts.
Mr McCready is certain he and others would have been killed as well had the car hit his ute head-on instead of hitting it behind the right front mudguard.
After the crash, the Lancer and a third car drove on without stopping.
"At that point I was sort of upside down and jammed on the roof, and out of the side of my window [I saw] the two other cars driving straight through ... They didn't stop to check on their family or anything, they just fled the scene."
Mr McCready pulled himself from the wreck, and residents of a nearby house led him away.
"I was quite angry, but the nice people in the house dragged me away and gave me something to wipe my face because there was blood and all that. They pulled me aside, tried to get me to sit down and they gave me water, but I walked back down to the scene.
"I looked at [the driver] across the road and he was standing there and couldn't admit what he'd done, going on about, 'It's not my fault, I didn't want to drive, it's not my fault, I didn't want to drive'.
"My wheel brace was outside my ute, and honestly, I was going to pick it up and deal to him.
"Then I heard a lady say, 'There's one dead and one under the car', and it went from anger to sadness ... and I just walked away."
The 20-year-old driver from Auckland, who has name suppression, faces two charges of manslaughter and is to appear in Tauranga District Court on Thursday.
A 2-year-old girl, believed to be the man's daughter, was in the front seat of the Honda and is recovering in the Starship hospital in Auckland.
The funeral for Merepeka and Brooklyn was held at Welcome Bay on Thursday.
Yesterday, police said that two others involved in the crash, a 17-year-old boy and a 36-year-old woman, had been charged with two counts of manslaughter. They would appear in Tauranga District Court today.
Mr McCready said he was relieved to have survived the crash for the sake of his sister, Nikki Parris, who lost her son, 17-year-old Jareth Parris, in a road accident in Queensland last month.
Mrs Parris was in Rotorua on Christmas Day and rushed to Tauranga when she learned of the crash.
Mr McCready's father, Stoney, arrived at the scene about eight minutes after his son called him.
Stoney McCready said: "The shit we'd just been through in Australia three weeks before, and for this to happen, and to think they were racing on Christmas and had the bloody kids in the car ... Well, at the end of the day, my boy was OK and my boy is still here."
Brett McCready praised the care and treatment he received from St John Ambulance paramedics and hospital staff, who "went way beyond the call".
The crash cost him his ute - $14,000 to replace - and left him bruised and receiving treatment from chiropractors.
"I should be all right. I've lost my ute, but that's stuff-all compared to losing those kids."
He pointed to a framed portrait of Jareth, wearing a tuxedo at his school ball not long before he died.
"That's my nephew ... He was a beautiful person. Those children, their family had control, they had a choice in the matter. We didn't."