A young Northland family have luck and a quick-thinking
passer-by to thank for their saving their lives after a
bizarre crash, described by a policeman as the luckiest
escape he has ever seen.
The accident occurred just after 8am yesterday when a
26-year-old Kerikeri man missed a sharp corner as he was
driving up Waipapa West Rd, Kapiro, and shot off a
10-metre-high bank, just missing a crash barrier on one side
and a large totara tree on the other. With him in the Mazda
Lantis were a woman, a 4-year-old child and an 8-month-old
The car grazed the tree and snapped off a branch as it flew
over a swimming hole and landed nose-first in a paddock 20m
away, flipping and coming to rest upside-down.
Constable Mark Roberts of Kerikeri police said a woman
walking along State Highway 10 heard a bang and ran across a
series of paddocks to reach the crash scene. She saw smoke
was coming from the car with the family inside.
She pulled them from the wreck and moments later flames
When the Kerikeri fire brigade arrived, the car was burning
Mr Roberts said the driver had a medical condition and may
have blacked out. The infant was uninjured, while the child
was taken to Bay of Islands Hospital for a check-up. The
woman suffered a broken wrist and head injuries, while the
driver was merely dazed.
Police inquiries were continuing.
"They were extremely lucky. If they had gone through the gap
200mm the other way they would have collected a thick branch
and gone straight down into the creek," Mr Roberts said.
The officer said it was the luckiest escape he had seen in
his 12-year policing career.
He praised the Kapiro woman, who had kept her cool and pulled
the family from the smouldering wreckage.
"She did very well. That's most people's worst nightmare."
At the very least she would be getting a letter of
commendation from the police, he said. After her rescue the
woman carried on with her walk, saying she was heading home
for a glass of water and a chance to calm down.
In the minds of many of the emergency workers yesterday was a
horror crash near Tokoroa, which killed a family of five when
their car plunged into a forest and was only discovered on
Tuesday, days after they went missing. The Kapiro crash could
have ended just as tragically.
- Peter de Graaf of The Northern Advocate