Emergency workers at the scene of a fatal bus crash on the
Milford Rd yesterday. Photo by 'Fiordland Advocate'.
Southland police are warning motorists to be wary of ice
on the roads after five separate road crashes, in which one
person died and several others were injured, during a horrific
morning on Northern Southland roads yesterday.
Acting Senior Sergeant Mark Lucas, of Invercargill, said
police had been concerned freezing conditions causing ice and
black ice on roads would make driving hazardous and they
urged drivers to be vigilant in winter road conditions.
Ice is likely again in some parts of Northern Southland this
Emergency services were stretched around the district
yesterday as black ice and fog resulted in three buses
rolling within minutes of each other.
Sergeant Todd Hollebon, of Te Anau, said seven additional
police staff were brought in and staff rostered off had been
called in after a bus carrying 13 Korean tourists and a
Korean driver to Milford Sound rolled on the Milford Rd,
killing one woman and seriously injuring another four
The woman, yet to be identified, died at the scene, Sgt
Two Southern Lakes Helicopters and the Otago Regional Rescue
Helicopter attended the scene.
Pilot Graeme Gale said while flying conditions were fine,
patches of fog at the scene forced him to land about 2km down
Emergency services "did a splendid job" preparing the
patients and the rescue effort was well co-ordinated in
difficult, icy conditions and a remote location, he said.
Two passengers were flown to Southland Hospital in
Invercargill and another three - including one with critical
injuries - were flown by Mr Gale to Dunedin Hospital.
The rest of the party were taken to the Te Anau Medical
Centre where they were treated for minor injuries.
Two patients were still being assessed last night in Dunedin
Hospital but seemed to be "OK", a hospital spokesman said.
One patient was admitted to a general ward in Southland
Hospital in a stable condition, a spokesman said.
Sgt Hollebon said the road was closed for most of the day
because of the conditions and to allow the police serious
crash unit and the commercial vehicle investigation unit to
investigate the scene and to move the bus.
Severe frost was a factor in two more bus crashes in Northern
Southland - both occurring within minutes of the Milford Rd
St John Ambulance Southland District operations manager
Pauline Buchanan said a van carrying six people rolled on a
corner covered in black ice near The Key, west of Mossburn,
One person was taken to Southland Hospital with moderate
injuries, Mrs Buchanan said.
The remaining passengers, described by police as "shaken . .
. [with] minor injuries", were taken to the Mossburn Fire
The third serious bus crash occurred at 8.47am near Athol, on
State Highway 6, when a bus carrying 18 Chinese tourists
Eight people were taken to Queenstown's Lakes District
Hospital and the Queenstown Medical Centre with injuries,
including a fractured cheek, concussion and minor cuts and
bruises, Police Southern District communications manager
Vivien Pullar said.
Inspector Olaf Jensen, of Invercargill, said two non-injury
crashes about the same time were "possibly attributable to
Although investigations were not complete, Insp Jensen said
black ice and freezing fog were a common factor in all five
Senior Sergeant Bruce Terry, of Te Anau, urged drivers to
take care on icy roads around the region.
"Police have been shocked by the speed drivers have been
travelling at and at the manner of driving, given the very
heavy frost," Snr Sgt Terry said.
The Milford Rd (State Highway 94) reopened about 5pm
yesterday, with the New Zealand Transport Agency warning
motorists to take extreme caution there as well as on the Te
Anau-Mossburn Highway (State Highway 94) between Lumsden and