Two doctors were among the first on the scene of a horror car crash in which eight people died yesterday.
A 9-year-old boy was the sole survivor of the smash on State Highway 1 near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, yesterday morning, in which an SUV and a van collided. The driver of the SUV, and the driver and six passengers in the van were killed.
The boy was rushed to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition via helicopter from Tokoroa Hospital. He remains there this morning in a stable condition.
A child's booster seat could be seen lying on the road near one of the cars yesterday.
The deaths bring this month's road toll to 45 - the highest in 10 years.
It's believed one of the vehicles crossed the centre line, in wet conditions on a left-hand bend.
Other motorists - including two doctors - came across the crash and quickly went to the aid of the injured.
One of those who helped told the Herald how passing motorists stopped to give first aid.
"We had a doctor doing CPR for a guy for about 30 minutes before emergency services got there," he said. The man later died at the scene.
He added: "We lost all but one of the people that were in that crash."
Investigations into the collision were ongoing, police said this morning.
"It is too soon to provide updates," a spokeswoman said.
"Crash investigations by their nature can take some time."
Yesterday Bay of Plenty Road policing officer Inspector Brent Crowe told media that early indications suggested one vehicle had crossed the centre line.
To describe the scene as a complete tragedy would be an understatement, Crowe said.
"Two vehicles, travelling on SH1 have come together, a head-on collision in wet conditions."
He said the police's main priority, for now, was to look after those who had died for the sake of their families.
"There will be also, obviously, a thorough investigation into why the crash has happened and that could take a considerable period of time."
When asked further about the causes, Crowe said: "It appears for whatever reason one of the vehicles has crossed to the incorrect side of the road on a moderate left-hand bend ... The road conditions were wet at the time."
He said it appeared only one person was in the southbound car and it was too early to say if seat belts were worn.
Police knew where the vehicles were registered, but would not confirm where those inside were from, he said.
The crash happened on SH1 about 200m north of the intersection with Ohakuri Rd. SH1 was closed between the intersection of SH30 and Oruanui Rd. It has since reopened.
The scene is just a 10-minute drive from the stretch of Tirohanga Rd where five members of the same family died four weeks ago when their vehicle came off the road on the morning of April 1.
Those who died in that crash were Peter Senior Rangikataua, 44, from Rotorua, his nephew Rangi Rangikataua, 26, from Mokai and Peter's three daughters Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, 15, Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua, 14, and Kahukura Morgan-Rangikataua, 12.
Michelle and Aroha were students at Rotorua Lakes High School and Kahukura was a pupil at Rotorua Intermediate.
Just days before, on April 29, Taupō man Dwayne Adam John Marker, 37, died in a two-truck crash outside the Bull Ring cafe on State Highway 1, a five-minute drive north of this morning's fatal crash scene.
Taupo Mayor David Trewavas told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast it was "another sad day in Taupo".
"It's only three weeks ago we were talking about the same thing, five fatalities within 10km of this," he said.
Trewavas said it was difficult to speculate on what happened, but he was familiar with the road.
"I travel that road a couple of times a week - you come across the mighty Waikato, at Atiamuri you come across a pretty new bridge, come up a double passing lane and around an easy corner, so what can I say?," he said.
However, he said there had been a change in conditions, with unseasonably humid weather and rain yesterday, which would have affected driving conditions.
Caroline Perry, from the road safety charity Brake, said it was important for the families of those were died in the crash to get the support to deal with their grief.
"What's really important is people have access to support when they need it to help them go through that grief process," she told Kate Hawkesby on Newstalk ZB this morning.
Crashes had a "huge ripple effect", she said.
"As well as immediate and extended family there are also friends, there might be work colleagues, a school community and the wider community that are affected as well. And people who witnessed the crash or who might be the first on the scene too."
According to Ministry of Transport statistics 137 people have died on the roads so far this year - eight more than the same time last year. April has been the deadliest month on the roads in 10 years, with 45 people dying this month alone.