A courier driver must have thought himself the most unlucky person last Wednesday when he heard a train coming after inadvertently getting his van stuck on the tracks.
Although trains are few and far between along the coastal route, the unfortunately timed crash meant his vehicle was wiped out, and he was helpless to do anything about it. It happened at Oaro about 6.10pm, ironically just hours after KiwiRail put out a media release about an alarming number of near-collisions at level crossings.
Initial reports suggested the driver had parked his van on the tracks while he delivered a parcel nearby. However, Constable Tony Willetts, of Kaikoura, said he had got the van stuck on the tracks, having thought he was going over a crossing. He had gone for help and then heard the train coming, said Constable Willetts.
"He went to get help from a neighbour, and that's when he heard the train. The van got clipped. It wasn't even fully over the lines, it was only hanging over by about 20cm . . . It was just one of those unfortunate things really."
It is understood the New Zealand Couriers driver may have tried to go over a one-way crossing the wrong way, which was how he got stuck. Vehicle salvager Ian Walker towed the van back to his Kaikoura yard.
The driver had tried to take a shortcut across the tracks just north of Oaro on State Highway 1, but got stuck, Mr Walker said.
"He definitely shouldn't have been where he was."
Kaikoura police responded to the incident but no-one was hurt in the collision. Rail services resumed shortly afterwards.
A NZ Couriers staff member in Christchurch said the driver was fine.
- © Fairfax NZ News