Remarkable escape as tree smashes onto car

Matthew Millar started reversing when dirt slipped onto the road dislodging a tree which fell onto his car. Photo: NZ Herald / Supplied
Matthew Millar started reversing when dirt slipped onto the road dislodging a tree which fell onto his car. Photo: NZ Herald / Supplied

"What just happened?"

It was the first thing Tony Millar said to his son, Matthew, after a tree smashed into their car, spinning it around, and pushing it into the kerb.

"We are extremely lucky. It's amazing how much you can think in that short amount of time," Mr Millar said.

The Kawakawa duo were heading up Lemons Hill to work in Opua about 7.10am today when a small tree lying on the road set off alarm bells.

Mr Millar knew something wasn't right.

"A four-wheel drive had just come down the hill so I thought 'Oh that's odd'. We had opened the door, I don't know why actually, and I just said to Matthew 'Matthew reverse' and as I said that there was a big roar."

As Matthe (19) started reversing dirt slipped down onto the road dislodging a tree which fell and smashed into the car, spinning it around, and pushing it into the curb.

The left front wheel rim broke as it hit the curb and the driver's window was smashed by a branch.

"We were actually getting out of the car probably as the car was still slightly moving coming to a stop because it's just panic," Mr Millar said.

"I guess all I thought about was that the car was going to get pushed straight across the road and over that bank and at that moment I said to Matthew 'Weeeeeeeee've got to get out.'"

Other than a few scratches on Matthew, Mr Millar said they were unscathed.

"If we had gone 10 feet further ahead that's where that big tree came down and it could have easily gone through the car and pushed it straight sideways. I think it was good Matthew was reversing so when the tree hit us it spun us," he said.

Mr Millar said Matthew was "white as a ghost". The first thing Mr Millar said to him was "What just happened?"

"He couldn't even speak, he was actually in shock for quite a while after. He wasn't good."

Mr Millar called 111 but as he was on the phone Constable Julian Trinder turned up. Mr Millar was happy to see him.

Fire crews from Paihia and Kawakawa also went to the scene.

Mr Millar then called his wife and she and their daughter came to pick up him and Matthew.

"They were expecting to see some mud on the road and were horrified when they saw it. They thought 'You walked out of that?' The first lady who got there gave us an umbrella and they were like 'My goodness, there is a car in there?'"

Mr Millar said he only went to work with Matthew that day as his ute was being painted but he is glad he was in the car with his son.

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