Girl critical after Northland crash

A 5-year-old Northland girl was last night fighting for her life in Auckland's Starship Hospital after suffering severe head injuries in a head-on crash.

The smash occurred on a winding section of Russell-Whakapara Rd, a few kilometres from the Russell ferry turnoff in an area known as Frenchman's Swamp, about 1.30pm yesterday.

It appeared a car carrying a Bay of Islands man in his 30s and two young children, believed to be twins, and a ute heading in the opposite direction collided.

The girl was treated at the scene by St John paramedics for more than an hour before she was airlifted to Auckland, still in a critical condition.

Two Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopters landed nearby, one taking the car's driver and the other the injured girl's brother to Whangarei Hospital.

The man's legs were broken and he had to be cut from the wreckage.

The boy appeared to be uninjured but was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The driver of the ute, a Russell man in his 50s, suffered moderate injuries and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Police are still investigating the crash.

A witness and the driver gave conflicting accounts as to whether the children were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. That is also being investigated.

- Peter de Graaf of the Northern Advocate

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