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Luck appears to have been on the driver’s side on multiple counts.
While escaping the unforgiving waters of the Clutha was a fortunate turn of events, it was like following a life-size game of chance in plotting out exactly how the car ended up in the river.
The Otago Daily Times viewed the crash scene yesterday where at the end of a 700m track off Tamblyn Dr, a minor road in Lake Roxburgh Village, the police had marked the vehicle’s tyre tracks with orange aerosol paint — tracking its course as it drove through a wire netting and waratah fence to the river — narrowly missing willow trees either side of it before plunging more than 10m into the Clutha.
A search was launched on Tuesday amid fears the driver might be still in the vehicle and a police plea for information, but Central Otago police issued a statement yesterday thanking the public for information that led them to find the driver safe and well.
The search concluded yesterday after a four-to-five hour on-water search by Coastguard Clyde.
That did not surprise Coastguard Clyde secretary and operational crew member Barrie Wills, who said the car could be as far away as Roxburgh, 6-7km from where it entered the water — or beyond — due to the swift flow of the river.
The depth of the river at the centre of the flow was 7-12m and the flow varied from 5 knots-7 knots (9kmh-13kmh).
It was believed the car may have entered the water on Sunday, he said.
A long-term Lake Roxburgh Village resident said the Clutha River was New Zealand’s fastest-flowing and he believed there would be little left of the vehicle.
"It’ll be in bits by now."
- Thursday’s story referred to Lake Roxburgh Village as Roxburgh Hydro Village. While this a common reference, it is incorrect.