Four men die in two crashes

A horror weekend on southern roads has claimed the lives of four men, including a teen killed in a crash near Mosgiel early yesterday.

Alcohol and speed were possible factors in both crashes, with three men dying when their Toyota Hilux crashed into a concrete bridge on the Riversdale-Waikaia road, on Friday night.

At 3am yesterday, a 19-year-old male passenger died at the scene of a single-vehicle crash in Riverside Rd. His name will not be released until next of kin have been notified.

The four other occupants of the Honda saloon - aged in their late teens to early 20s - escaped the crash with minor injuries.

Dunedin Clutha Waitaki relieving area commander Inspector Jason Guthrie told the Otago Daily Times the dead man was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

''It's likely that alcohol is a factor but confirmation of this, and whether speed was involved, will all form part of our crash investigations.

''Matters that relate to the driver and the conditions of their licence will be established as part of the inquiry.''

The crash site had been cordoned off to allow police to investigate the scene, with the vehicle later removed and the cordon lifted.

Meanwhile, the death of three people in a rural Southland crash late on Friday night is a ''worst-nightmare'' for the close-knit community.

Christopher Martin Simpson (39), Matthew James Kennedy McKee (39), and Ewan Charles Christie (59) died at the scene after the Toyota Hilux utility they were in left the road and struck the edge of a concrete road bridge just before midnight on Waikaia/Riversdale Rd.

All three were from the Waikaia/Riversdale area.

Ward councillor John Douglas, of Mossburn, said the crash was ''gut-wrenching''. ''It's a community's worst nightmare,'' Mr Douglas said.

The families of the deceased were ''well-known and well-respected'' farming families in the area. It was made worse by the fact one of the families had lost another family member in a crash some years ago, Mr Douglas said.

''Considering that for one of the families this is a second tragedy, this is just awful.''

The community would rally together in support of family and friends of the deceased, he said.

Waikaia Chief Fire Officer Ross Sage, who was called to the accident with a crew of four, said the accident would have a profound effect on the community.

''You are looking at three different families within the Waikaia/Riversdale area; of course it's going to affect everyone in the community,'' ''It's a farming community where everybody knows everybody.''

It had been one of the most distressing accidents he had been called to, which was made worse by knowing the deceased.

''We are a volunteer brigade in a small rural area, so we are bound to know 90% of the people we attend.''

Police said the crash scene was attended by emergency services and the serious crash unit.

Police are investigating whether alcohol or speed were factors in the crash.

Further north, the man who died after the ute he was driving in rural North Canterbury rolled and crushed him on Saturday morning has been named.

John Charles Percival (56), of Christchurch, was part of a three-man hunting party which had been accessing the Macdonald Downs area.

His ute crushed him after it left the track and rolled several times down a steep hillside about 10am. Initial inquiries indicated Mr Percival had not been wearing a seatbelt.

Additional reporting by APNZ.

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