A woman who was first on the scene of the first of two fatal crashes near Taupō says what she saw "keeps playing in my mind".
Two people died in unrelated crashes near Taupō; one after an alleged police pursuit.
The first crash happened about 11.40pm when a vehicle left the road and rolled through a paddock before hitting a tree. The second fatal crash happened about 1.20am on Friday when an allegedly fleeing driver lost control on a corner and went through a horse fence and into a paddock.
Young mum Kate Ramsey was at home on Broadlands Rd on Thursday night when she heard the first fatal crash, which sounded like really loud "skidding and crunching of metal and wire" coming from opposite her house.
She grabbed her baby and ran down the driveway to see a car had gone through three fences and hit a tree.
Ramsey phoned emergency services as she saw her neighbour tear down his driveway.
The neighbour frantically jumped the fences to reach the young man in the car and Ramsey could see him grab the man's arm.
Ramsey went over to the car to check the man's pulse. "There was nothing. He was gone. It was horrible."
Ramsey and her neighbour attempted to remove the man from the car as emergency services requested, but were unable to.
Ramsey's partner came home from his night shift at work just as the rescue helicopter was on its way to the second crash scene.
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She and her partner were up most of the night as emergency services worked at the scene of the first crash.
"Everything that I saw just keeps playing in my mind."
Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said a police photographer was en route to the scene of the first, unrelated crash, from Rotorua and was passed by a car.
"The photographer radioed ahead to the scene, afraid for the safety of the staff there, to say this vehicle was approaching them.
"A vehicle was sent from the scene to where the roadblock was to ensure the safety of the civilian contractors manning that roadblock."
As the car approached the roadblock it turned on to Centennial Dr and the police lights were activated, he said.
He said police followed the car for fewer than 30 seconds before it crashed on a corner and went through a horse fence, ending up in a paddock, he said.
"The passenger of the vehicle, a 45-year-old male, was pronounced dead at the scene," McGregor said.
A 28-year-old male, the alleged driver of the vehicle, has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.
He was due to appear in the Taupo District Court, yesterday.
McGregor said staff were upset by the incident.
"I look at our staff, we've got young staff, some with less than a year's service, visibly upset about this whole incident but they've done what we expected them to do.
"This is an absolute tragedy and an outcome no one ever wants.
"Our thoughts go out to the family of the two people who died."
Centennial Drive from the corner of Rakanui and Broadlands Rds was closed for nearly eight hours yesterday as scene examinations took place.
The crash will be investigated by both the Independent Police Conduct Authority and police investigators.
The Broadlands Rd crash was the third fatal crash on that road in the past year.
Last month, a person was killed in a motorcycle crash on Broadlands Rd near Strathmore Rd.
In January last year, Ronald (Rolly) Gladding was killed when a man with marijuana, alcohol and methamphetamine in his system crossed the centre line and hit Gladding's truck head-on, on Broadlands Rd.
In June the 27-year-old man responsible was sentenced to three years in prison and disqualified from driving for three years.
With the Auckland Anniversary long weekend this weekend, the NZ Transport Agency was warning motorists to plan ahead and be patient to remain safe on the region's roads.
System manager Rob Campbell said motorists should prepare for the roads to be busier than normal as people head for holiday hotspots.
A number of events across the Bay of Plenty were set to take place including the two-day One Love music festival and the Eastern Regional Surf Lifesaving Championships in Tauranga.
- Additional reporting Samantha Olley