Large tree falls onto passing car
A woman and child narrowly missed serious injury this morning when a large tree fell on their car as they were entering Cambridge in the Waikato.
The tree crashed across State Highway 1 at the town's lower bridge near the entry point to Leamington, closing the road for some time.
Hundreds of people witnessed the incident as they crowded the riverbanks waiting for the start of this year's Cambridge to Hamilton Paddle Race.
Just as things were heating up for the start of the annual race from Riverside Reserve, people heard a loud crack and watched in horror as the tree fell heavily across the road.
The vehicle it clipped received some superficial damage, but its occupants were uninjured.
St John Ambulance officers on the scene for the paddle race tended the occupants of the car after they stopped their vehicle several metres further down the road. They said they were shaken by the incident.
Had the tree fallen moments later it probably would have hit a large truck following close behind, witnesses said.
Several people who live nearby said a huge branch had split off one of the trees in the same bank yesterday afternoon. Recent winds and rain had made the ground particularly unstable, they said.
As emergency services tackled the removal of the tree, paddle race organisers warned competitors to stay away from the section of the river nearest the unstable bank, alerting them to the dangers of more trees falling.