A woman braved freezing waters to help an elderly driver who plunged into the sea north of Wellington.
Jude Bailey held the 91-year-old's head above the water for 30 minutes after the accident at Lowry Bay on Friday.
The driver later died in hospital.
Mrs Bailey, 50, said the car passed her coming the other near a corner.
"She seemed to be accelerating. I thought she's not going to make that corner, then I saw a huge splash."
Mrs Bailey quickly parked her vehicle and climbed down to the woman's hatchback, which came to rest in the water, metres from the sea wall.
"She was down in the passenger foot well, with her face in the water. I just held her head above the water and tried to comfort her."
A male passer-by came to help, and the pair stayed with the woman for 30 minutes.
The woman was not conscious, but squeezed Mrs Bailey's hand when she was told help was on the way.
"I told her there are some very good looking policemen here. I'm just glad I was able to help. I've worked with elderly people and I know how to treat them. I didn't think twice about jumping in."
Mrs Bailey said she was "blue with cold" by the time she left the scene.
The driver was taken to Hutt Hospital by ambulance in a serious condition, but died on Friday afternoon.
She has not yet been named.
Senior sergeant Pat Thomas of the Lower Hutt police praised the "courageous" actions of bystanders.
"They have been able to provide her with some reassurance so that was good."
The serious crash unit and coroner were investigating, he said.
It was possible a medical condition had contributed to the woman's death, but it was unclear if this had happened before or after the crash.
- © Fairfax NZ News
How would you rate your mathematical skill?Related story: Kiwi maths performance concerns