Local residents who assisted in retrieving a stranded truck
containing the bodies of two men in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
have been praised by the regional council.
The men, identified as Opotiki residents Gordon Douglas
Nelson, 67 and Frederick Michael Ruff, 70, died when the tow
truck they were in crashed 25 metres down a bank on Thursday.
The incident occurred on the remote Takaputahi Rd, Toatoa,
east of Opotiki, when the pair were on a return trip from
recovering a stranded vehicle.
Adrian Heays, of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, said
several locals - including one man who offered up his
bulldozer - helped staff from the regional council when they
arrived at the crash site.
When staff found the tow truck, it was leaking diesel and
hydraulic fluid into a stream which feeds into the Motu
Local residents brought drums to help with the situation and
assisted in putting booms into the stream, Mr Heays said.
"A local offered the use of his bulldozer and went some
distance to find a driver. Once the brakes were unlocked we
could tow the truck without gouging the stream bed and get it
right out of the water."
The truck probably had up to 200 litres of diesel and 200
litres of hydraulic fluid on board, some of which had escaped
into the stream before the response team got to the scene, Mr
"The local people who live in the area were amazing and
really helped us out, especially Paul Waghorne, Tony Calhoun
and Weka who came to drive the bulldozer.
"We wouldn't have been able to complete the job without
While the cause of the crash is being investigated, police
have already said weather appeared to be a factor.