Manawatu Gorge reopens after fatal accident

04:56, Mar 24 2010
FATAL: The truck which went into the Manawatu Gorge this morning, killing the driver.

The road through the Manawatu Gorge has reopened after police recovered the body of a man who died when his truck crashed through barriers and tumbled down a steep bank last night.

The crash is believed to have happened just after midnight when John Douglas Watene, 49, of Feilding, was driving east towards Woodville in a truck and trailer unit.

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said it appeared Mr Watene lost control of truck, which came to rest about 15 to 20 metres down the bank. The trailer ended up about 25 metres down the bank, in the Manawatu River.

The busy road which links Palmerston North with Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay was closed twice today, as police waited on specialist lifting equipment and worked to recover Mr Watene's body.

The truck's tractor unit was lifted from the gorge this afternoon, while the partially-submerged trailer would be recovered tomorrow.

The road would be closed again at 9am tomorrow for an unknown length of time.

"It is a tricky operation so motorists are advised to avoid the area," Ms Perks said.

The serious crash investigation unit is looking into the cause of the crash.