A nine-year-old girl is dead and six other people injured following a three-vehicle crash near the top of the Kaimai Range tonight.
Police described the crash scene on the busy State Highway 29 as ‘‘horrific’’.
The death comes as police push the road safety message ahead of the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, which begins tomorrow afternoon.
Emergency services were called to the accident site about 4pm, on the western side of the mountain.
The crash initially involved two cars. A west-bound vehicle heading towards Hamilton crossed the centre line into an oncoming car, which included the girl and four others, Sergeant Wayne Hunter of Western Bay of Plenty police said.
Moments later, another east-bound vehicle hit the other two cars.
It is believed the dead girl was from Western Bay.
"I was at the crash scene myself, it was an horrific scene, with three cars involved," Hunter said.
"People have to realise that the Kaimai road is very busy, it can be dangerous and people need to take care. Traffic was backed up about 15 km down the mountain tonight which shows how busy it can become."
Police, St John ambulance and more than 20 fire staff were at the crash site. Fire teams used cutting equipment to free people from the vehicles.
Hunter said one driver was taken to Tauranga Hospital by ambulance.
The four people travelling in the same car as the girl were taken to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton and assessed by the hospital’s emergency department trauma team. The person in the third car was also taken to Tauranga Hospital.
Hunter said the road was due to re-open about 9.30pm.
He said the police serious crash unit would continue its investigation into the crash tomorrow.
- Waikato Times