Using the light from his mobile phone, Chris Martin tip-toed around downed power lines to a crashed car to check for survivors.
He found a man slumped over in the passenger seat, unconscious.
Moments earlier, Martin, a New World supermarket worker had been travelling east on Malfroy Rd in Rotorua to start his 5am shift when he saw red tail lights spinning ahead of him.
"I thought 'what the hell is that?' and then everything went dark."
As he approached Whitworth Rd, just before a bend, he saw a badly damaged white station wagon, strings of powerlines down and a smashed concrete power pole left dangling.
"I then saw the shadow of a person taking off towards Whitworth Rd."
He drove his car closer and had to drive through the power lines.
"I was a bit sketchy about the power lines and didn't know if it was safe to get out of the car or not."
Another car approached the crash scene from the other direction and people started to come out of nearby homes.
Martin made the decision to get out and see if anyone was in the car. He carefully walked over, using his phone's light to ensure he didn't step on the lines.
"I had rubber shoes on so decided to just walk ... It was so dark and I was looking for wires on the ground."
He remembered from first aid courses to check surroundings and look after yourself first.
"I was worried about the power lines because I didn't know if they were live, but I wanted to see if anyone was in the car and if they were okay."
He shone his torch inside the car and saw the man slumped over.
"I was like 'oh my God' but I was unsure if he was okay."
Martin noticed the man's chest was moving up and down slightly.
"I knew he was alive and he was groaning a bit but he wasn't in a good way."
A man from the other car stopped at the crash scene called 111 while Martin and another woman, who lived nearby, tried to comfort the injured man.
"I could smell petrol fumes and oil coming from the car and I was pretty worried about a spark from the wires on the ground."
Fire and Emergency New Zealand was first on the scene and the officers told Martin and others to leave given the danger of the power lines.
Senior Sergeant Karl Konlechner said police were investigating reports of the driver running from the scene.
He said the passenger was in a serious condition but his injuries were downgraded to moderate once he reached hospital.
Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said people often found themselves "fighting their instincts" when approached with a situation when there were live powerlines down at a crash.
He said though there were safety mechanisms attached to the power lines to "de-energise" the lines when there was a "trip", it didn't always work.
"You should treat all lines down as if they are live. You have to temper that with the natural drive to want to get in there and help."
He said if power lines were strewn across a vehicle, it was always best to stay inside as the rubber tyres acted as a safety guard.
The crash cut power in the area, affecting 790 customers immediately. Unison restored power to all but 200 people within about 45 minutes by supplying them from other parts of the electricity network.
Gough said power was progressively restored to all but 30 customers in the immediate area during the next two hours, with all customers having their power back on by 1pm Sunday.