Priests pray for crash victims

The wreckage of the van after it fell 15m from State Highway 5 near Te Haraoto. Photo by Paul Taylor
The wreckage of the van after it fell 15m from State Highway 5 near Te Haraoto. Photo by Paul Taylor
Sikh priests were urgently ushered into the intensive care unit to pray for the most critically injured victims of the Hawkes Bay crash that injured eight members of one family.

"Traumatised" family members called the elders to Hawkes Bay Regional Hospital to administer recuperative prays to 5-month-old Manmeet Singh and his father Jagtar Singh, who remain in the most serious conditions.

The crash, which saw the family's van plunge 15 metres down a cliff and "pancake" upside-down, happened on Thursday at 6.45am on State Highway 5 about 80km from Napier.

The family were returning from Auckland, after picking up Jagtar, his wife Sukhwinder Kaur, their two daughters aged 12 and 9, and baby Manmeet from Melbourne.

Jagtar's brother Sandeep had been driving the van, having driven from Havelock North to pick the family up and take them home.

Gurmeet Singh, a former Sikh priest who has been helping out at the Ravidas Temple in Hastings, said he and another priest were called to the hospital yesterday and ushered in to pray for the crash victims.

"The family are traumatised. It was a serious crash ... sometimes it happens, we make mistakes. The family is quite close to me.

"We gave prayers to help them get better, to help for their recovery and with ongoing support."

The prayers had mostly been for Jagtar, he said, who was unconscious in the most serious condition.

It was expected Jagtar would be flown to the Burwood spinal unit in Christchurch today, Mr Singh said.

The five Melbourne-based family members were in New Zealand to celebrate the birth of Manmeet, the first son in the family.

Eight members of family were last night in hospital, some with life-threatening injuries, from the crash which happened as they were driving from Auckland to Hawkes Bay.

Sandeep is understood to have been thrown from the van with Manmeet, where a passing motorist found them on the roadside and notified emergency services about the van at the bottom of the cliff.

The six other survivors were winched to safety, and all eight were admitted to hospital in Hawkes Bay.

Jagtar this morning remained in a critical condition, while 5-month-old Manmeet's condition had improved overnight to serious but stable.

A 9-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl, a woman in her 30 and a man in his 30s were all also considered in serious but stable conditions.

A man in his 40s and a man in his 20s were described as being in stable conditions.

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