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Todd Stewart McKenzie (53), of Hannahs Clearing, was killed when the Holden V8 saloon he was driving crashed off the Moeraki River Bridge on State Highway 6 on Wednesday evening.
Three passengers in the vehicle got out safely, although one suffered a broken arm or wrist and was airlifted to Grey Base Hospital.
Those helping in the aftermath heard from the surviving occupants that they "had never been in a vehicle travelling so fast" while a Lake Moeraki resident said the car "literally flew across the whole Moeraki River".
Long-time Haast resident Kerry Eggeling said yesterday he knew the car well as it "sounded like a jet engine" when it travelled past his home on Haast-Jackson Bay Rd.
"You heard it more than you saw it," he said.
A neighbour of Mr McKenzie’s, Barry Horne, said Mr McKenzie had moved to the area a couple of years ago from Whanganui.
"All I know was that he was a whitebaiter. He’d had a farm in the North Island and sold that before moving into a house down the road."