The tanker driver involved in the triple-death collision in Patea last week has been found dead at his home.

The driver was involved in a collision with a car last Thursday when three people died in a fireball explosion which shocked and horrified the town.

Police announced yesterday that the driver had been found dead at his home in Stratford and that the death was being referred to the coroner. It is not being treated as suspicious.

His family had "requested privacy in relation to this tragic incident", police said.


The driver was pulled from his Fonterra milk truck dazed and shocked after the fatal crash, and was comforted on the side of the road by residents in Egmont St - Patea's main thoroughfare - where the accident happened, near the corner with Gloucester St.

One neighbour said the driver, who had minor injuries, had just wanted a phone so he could ring his boss at Fonterra.

He was taken to Hawera Hospital by St John Ambulance.

Three occupants of the car - brother and sister Cherylene and John Bayne and Chantelle Giles - were killed.

Yesterday, Scott Bayne, the younger brother of Cherylene and John, told the Chronicle he didn't blame the tanker driver.

Mr Bayne said he was angry that media had reported that the Baynes' car had reversed out of an Egmont St driveway into the path of the tanker. "That is just not true. The car was parked off the road on the pavement."

He said the tanker hit the car, which was "pulled underneath the tanker".

The force of the crash brought down power lines, cutting power to the street for several hours, and the road was closed until the early hours of Friday morning.

Family and friends of the Baynes from throughout New Zealand and overseas were arriving at the family home in Patea late yesterday afternoon.

Police told Scott Bayne yesterday of the tanker driver's death.

A close friend said his mate Scott had thought the nightmare situation couldn't get any worse, but the news of the tanker driver's death was devastating.

"Scott told me it feels as though it's gone from bad to worse. It's very hard for him ...

"I am glad the family will be here soon. This is too horrible and too sad - it's as though everything has fallen apart. It can't get any worse."

The funeral of Cherylene and John Bayne will held on Wednesday at 11am at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Hawera.