Elderly man dies in two-car crash

HARD WORK: Emergency services at the fatal accident on State Highway 6.
HARD WORK: Emergency services at the fatal accident on State Highway 6.

An elderly man is dead after the car he was driving smashed into the back of a stationary utility vehicle on State Highway 6 in an area police describe as an "accident waiting to happen".

Emergency services were called to Atawhai at 6.23pm for the fatal accident outside a private right-of-way in an area between Bayview Rd and Tui Glen.

Constable Reuben McCormack of the Nelson police said this morning Nelson CIB were investigating.

The accident had involved two vehicles, both heading north along the highway towards Blenheim.

The dead man was Terence John Schwass, 73, of Nelson.

"This was just an accident waiting to happen," Mr McCormack said. "A four-wheel-drive ute has stopped in the centre of the road waiting to turn and a station wagon has come up behind, travelling at 100kmh, and just not reacted. I'm not surprised ... it's a dangerous area. People need to know to pull over to the left-hand side in that area if they are going to turn."

A spokeswoman for Mr Schwass' family, Deane Gornall, said they were in shock.

"We don't really know what happened, it just happened so quickly. It is just very hard to understand," she said.

St John Ambulance team manager Gary Tobin said a 68-year-old passenger in the stationwagon driven by Mr Schwass was taken to hospital with a shoulder injury.

The 35-year-old driver of the ute was also taken to hospital with a cut to the head. They were both treated and discharged.

The emergency services were notified of the accident by a fire crew that was returning from another job in Atawhai Drive and travelling in the other direction at about 6.20pm. Ms Gornall said the crew was on the scene within 30 seconds of the accident.

Senior station officer Chris Perkins said the passengers of the station wagon had to be cut free from the wreck.

The police serious crash unit was called to the scene, which was strewn with glass. Traffic was backing up from both directions. A tarpaulin was draped over the car until police removed the body.

A resident of one of the houses in the area, and a friend of the driver of the ute who was waiting for him to return home, heard a loud bang and thought he had driven through the garage door.

The woman, who declined to be named, said her friend driving the ute had stopped to turn right off the highway and into the driveway, when it appeared the other car had driven into the back of his vehicle, shunting him around to face the opposite direction.

The woman believes her friend had been waiting in the centre of the road and waiting to give way to the fire engine heading south into town.

"It was very close, and my friend may have been waiting for the fire engine to go past before turning."

The woman said traffic speed along the highway was "terrible", especially with the double passing lanes heading south into town.

"They need to put the speed limit down to 80kmh," she said.

The Nelson Mail