Courier van hits power pole; long-time driver dies

The wreckage of a courier van after a crash near Lawrence yesterday in which driver Gavin George Anderson was killed. Photo by Helena de Reus
The wreckage of a courier van after a crash near Lawrence yesterday in which driver Gavin George Anderson was killed. Photo by Helena de Reus
A Dunedin family is in shock after a courier driver died early yesterday when his van crashed into a power pole near Lawrence.

Gavin George Anderson (66) was driving on State Highway 8, less than 1km south of the South Otago town, when he crashed into the power pole about 5.15am.

The impact brought down live power lines around his vehicle and cut electricity to more than 500 consumers while also closing State Highway 8 for more than nine hours.

Emergency services were unable to reach Mr Anderson until the lines had been made safe at 6.35am.

Mr Anderson's wife, Kay, said the family was trying to come to terms with what had happened and were in shock.

She said her husband had worked for New Zealand Couriers for 17 years, and drove the Dunedin-to-Queenstown run.

Senior Constable Robert Wallace, of Lawrence, said Mr Anderson was the van's sole occupant.

Gavin Anderson.
Gavin Anderson.
A PowerNet spokesman said staff from the company's contractor arrived shortly after 6am and worked to make the lines safe, allowing some access to the wreckage for emergency services to check on the driver at 6.35am.

The spokesman said 506 customers were without power for more than eight hours.

Police said a scene examination was delayed because of hazardous substances leaking from the vehicle, thought to be paint stripper or a similar substance.

The substance was cleared by lunchtime, allowing Mr Anderson's body to be removed by emergency services.

Power was restored by 1.45pm yesterday and the road reopened at 2.30pm.

Lawrence and Waitahuna volunteer fire brigades, police and New Zealand Transport Agency and Otago Regional Council staff all attended the scene.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way, but police said no other vehicles appeared to have been involved.

Anyone who saw the courier van travelling on State Highway 8 early yesterday is asked to contact police on (03) 418-0203.

The matter has been referred to the coroner.

helena.dereus@odt.co.nz