Haast crash survivors had 'never travelled so fast'

The survivors of a crash that killed a Haast man, who was today named by police, told rescuers they had never been in a car "travelling so fast".

Police today named the man who died after crashing a car off a bridge north of Haast as 53-year-old Todd Stewart McKenzie, of Haast. 

The Moeraki River Bridge. Photo: Google
The Moeraki River Bridge. Photo: Google

Police said at the time emergency services were called to the scene, on the Haast Highway (State Highway 6) at the Moeraki River Bridge, after being alerted at 6.53pm on Tuesday evening.

Three people managed to get out of the vehicle safely but one person had remained trapped, police said.

The Holden V8 saloon man was travelling north along State highway 6 towards Fox Glacier when it crashed at the one-lane bridge.

The driver was trapped inside and was deceased. 

A Lake Moeraki area resident told the Greymouth Star the driver and his three companions - two South Westland locals and an Irish visitor - had just marked the end of the whitebait season, having spent the past 10 weeks whitebaiting at the mouth of the Moeraki (Blue) River, and had been celebrating the end of the season.

The car was travelling very fast when it approached the bridge and "literally flew across the whole Moeraki River".

Those helping in the aftermath heard from the surviving occupants that they "had never been in a vehicle travelling so fast".

One of the passengers suffered a broken arm or wrist and was airlifted to Grey Base Hospital by the NZCC West Coast Rescue Helicopter.

The other two were treated at the scene for lacerations and shock.

The resident said it was usually local people picking up the pieces from visiting drivers crashing in South Westland, but ironically this time it was locals who needed help.

"It's a little bit sobering really."

He paid tribute to the trained local residents who were first on the scene who helped late into the night, with emergency services from Haast and Fox Glacier.

"The thing we pay credit to is the medical emergency professionals who are resident here who were on the scene and gave first aid for the first 45
minutes ... everybody performed marvellously."

The car, with the driver inside, was removed from the river about 1.30am yesterday.

Acting senior sergeant Paul Watson of Greymouth said a serious crash investigator who was on the West Coast yesterday to train local staff, was at the crash scene today and had opened a serious crash investigation.

With ODT

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