'Nothing to gain in taking a risk': crash witness

A witness to a horrific crash that left two people dead is pleading with motorists to think twice about taking risks on Southern roads.

Two people were killed and three others were injured, two critically and one seriously, in the head-on crash just south of Waihola on Saturday morning.

They were among seven people killed on New Zealand roads during the first two days of the Labour Weekend holiday period.

A Dunedin woman who was one of the first on the scene was calling for people to drive safely, to avoid the horrifying scenes that have left her traumatised and struggling to sleep.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said one of the cars involved in the crash overtook her just moments before it happened.

She saw the car pull out again to pass another vehicle, despite oncoming cars in the other lane.

"There was no rational decision. There was no way he could misunderstand that there were six cars coming towards him. It was mind-blowing to watch.

"Even if he had been successful [in passing], I bet my bottom dollar that when we got to the first set of lights at Dunedin we all would have been 10 seconds behind each other, at most. There was nothing to lose in waiting, nothing to gain in taking a risk. Please don’t take them."

Two people were killed and three people were injured in this incident south of Waihola on...
Two people were killed and three people were injured in this incident south of Waihola on Saturday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The next thing she saw was bits of car flying into the air.

"When I saw the impact, it was just ... I’ve done CPR courses, I’ve watched TV shows where they bounce cars off each other and show the impact, but you’ve got no idea until you see bits of car flying in the air, and how fast [it happens]. When they say that it happens in the blink of an eyelid ... I kid you not. In a hundredth of a second it was all still and quiet."

The woman, along with other members of the public, performed CPR on those injured until help arrived.

"There was petrol everywhere, there was battery acid everywhere. It was horrific to say the least," she said.

The impact of witnessing the event was taking a heavy toll.

"I haven’t slept, I’m crying, I don’t feel myself. I’m just not coping. If people witnessed this, they would never do it. No sane person would take those risks if they had to see what I saw.

"We’re all capable of putting our foot down, doing that extra 10 kilometres.

"But what I’ve learnt in the last 24 hours about how that all pans out — honestly: think again."

The crash, about 2km south of Waihola, closed the state highway for about six hours.

Police said emergency services were called to the crash about 9.15am.

A St John spokeswoman said that rescue helicopters flew two critically injured patients to Dunedin Hospital, and a third person with serious injuries was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

The Serious Crash Unit was advised.

The road reopened about 3.15pm.

One of the emergency service members at the scene on Saturday was Milton Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Robbie Philip.

He said the last thing any brigade member wanted was to attend an incident like this one.

"It’s very distressing on the victims and their families, and it can be very tough on the people that respond, whether they be St John, police or fire," he said.

As of last night, the Labour Weekend holiday road toll was at seven.

Last year’s toll for the whole holiday was eight.


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