The family of a man injured in a car crash near Ōpōtiki on Sunday night were receiving messages of condolence as he underwent surgery at Waikato Hospital this morning.
Police are now looking into how a statement was released to media saying a 49-year-old man who had been the passenger in a car, had died when he had not.
The first statement from Police, sent to media at 7.30pm on Sunday, said emergency services were at the scene of a two-car crash on SH35 at Tirohanga where one person had been seriously injured.
A second statement from Police, released at 7.40am on Monday, said the passenger involved in the serious crash had died. A third statement, released at 9.20am on Monday, asked for witnesses to the crash to come forward and confirmed a 49-year-old man, who had been a passenger in one of the vehicles, had died in Waikato Hospital.
But a woman who knew the victim said the passenger in the car accident was very much alive and fighting for his life.
She said the family were upset as they were receiving condolence messages.
He had just come out of surgery in Waikato Hospital and ''is very much breathing''.
The Rotorua Daily Post contacted the Police media team just after 10am and asked if the man had died. In a phone call, it was confirmed he had.
Shortly after 1pm, Police issued a correction regarding the crash. In a statement, police said the person seriously injured in the crash had not died.
A Police spokesperson said police sincerely apologised for any distress caused to the
"We are working to determine how this error has occurred and ensure it does not happen again."
Police said they understood the man remained in hospital but did not have a status.
In response to whether the Waikato DHB played any role in the incorrect information being released to media, the police spokesperson said she could not speak on behalf of the DHB.
The spokesperson said local police staff were working to establish how the incorrect information was released.
Meanwhile, officers are appealing for any witnesses to the crash to come forward.
"Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or have any information that may assist Police is urged to contact Opotiki or Whakatane Police via 105."