Two confirmed dead in fiery crash
KATHRYN KING, CHRIS HYDE AND AIMEE GULLIVER
Police have confirmed a man and a woman died in terrible crash on State Highway 1 in the Manawatu yesterday as dramatic footage of the aftermath emerged.
A 51-year-old woman and her 20-year-old male passenger, both from Levin, died just after midnight in an impact that saw a huge explosion and all three vehicles involved catch fire.
The crash happened behind the convoy of a 24-metre long, 11-metre wide catamaran, which was being transported from Palmerston North to Foxton via Sanson overnight.
A Big Chill frozen foodstuffs truck had slowed down to allow for the wide load ahead of it, causing the car behind it to reduce its speed as well.
But a truck travelling behind the car did not realise what had happened and crashed into the car, forcing it under the back right side of the Big Chill truck.
The fire burned so intensely that the road surface melted.
One person in the Nissan vehicle died at the scene and police believed a second person had been in the vehicle, but that could not be confirmed yesterday due to the extensive damage to the car.
The car was taken away for further analysis to determine whether there was a second victim.
The deceased have not been identified.
"We are still working through the formal identification process and the crash investigation is ongoing.
"We are only 48 hours into this tragic event and we don't yet have all the answers but are working to establish the events leading up to the crash," Senior Sergeant Nigel Allan said.
The video was shot by a motorist travelling north, in the opposite direction, who had pulled over to allow the trucks pass.
Neither truck driver was injured in the crash, but both were taken to hospital for assessment.
The crash closed State Highway 1 between Sanson and Foxton until 3.45pm yesterday, when it reopened with a 50kmh speed restriction following fresh road repairs.
POLICE CONTINUE INVESTGATIONS
Police will continue investigations today into the safety procedures of the moving company tasked with the go-slow shift of the multimillion-dollar catamaran.
Central House Movers was five hours into the nine-hour shift of the catamaran and said yesterday there was nothing the company could have done differently to prevent the smash.
''We did everything by the book," said company truck driver Matt Nairn, who had been transporting the top deck of the boat along SH1.
Police central communications spokeswoman Sara Stavropoulos said initial discussions with Central House Movers at the scene had not been enough to determine whether all safety protocols had been adhered to.
Part of the investigations today would be to confirm this, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What are you doing in preparation for the big storm this weekend?Related story: Wellington in for severe weather