A Shannon coffee cart owner who narrowly missed being hit by an out-of-control fuel tanker has described the crash scene as being like "something out of a movie".
Dave Howorth, owner of the Streetwise coffee cart on State Highway 57 in Shannon, found himself in the firing line.
The tanker was sliding on its side toward him as he stood frozen to the spot inside his small black cart.
"I heard a bang and in one split second my vision was filled up with a big green truck, it was all very slow motion."
Just before 4pm on Monday, the tanker - said to be swerving to avoid a car - toppled over and slid across the highway, shunting a parked car containing two women, and coming to rest about two metres from a shocked Mr Howorth.
"It got a bit close. I thought I was a drive-through service there for a while."
Mr Howorth and other business owners went to the aid of the women trapped in the car, while the truck driver climbed out of his cab unaided.
"After the initial shock I could hear the women crying in the car and we were all just trying to get them out," Mr Howorth said.
Legacy Antiques shop owner Jenny Dick said the truck almost hit the side of the building and it was possibly only a drain that slowed it down.
"I heard an enormous bang, then all I saw was the truck appearing in the shop window.
"There was a river of fuel running across the road, it was a huge amount and everyone was worried it could all go up in flames."
Mrs Dick said business owners in the vicinity were told to evacuate their premises.
They were not allowed back into their buildings until yesterday morning after each site had been checked and cleared of petrol fumes.
Mrs Dick said she had time only to lock the shop and, for safety reasons, was not allowed to move her car.
Horowhenua District and Horizons Regional Council workers were back on the scene yesterday assessing damage and removing contaminated soil.
Inspector Dave White, from the Central District police headquarters in Palmerston North, said the cause of the crash had not yet been identified.
Mr Howorth, who with his wife Gina has operated the takeaway coffee business for four years, said it was a miracle no-one was hurt.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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