Car flip on beach badly injures driver

CALEB HARRIS AND PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2013
castlepoint crash
ANDERS CROFOOT

BEACH CRASH: A man is in a critical condition after flipping his car on Castlepoint Beach in the Wairarapa.

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A shearer was in such pain after wrecking his car on Castlepoint beach that he had to be held down while beachgoers tried to treat him.

The 22-year-old Pahiatua man was thrown from the car when it hit soft sand and rolled while he was sliding at speed or "doing snakies", Sergeant Chris Megaw, of Wairarapa, said.

A Castlepoint resident said she saw people holding the man on the ground after the accident at the beach, east of Masterton, about 6pm on Thursday.

"The car was on its side, there was glass everywhere . . . he was lying on the ground in pain, they were trying to keep him still."

An off-duty emergency doctor and a holidaying Spanish paramedic rushed to help the man, who was thrown 10 metres from the car.

The Westpac rescue helicopter arrived about 40 minutes later and flew the man to Wellington Hospital, where he was in a stable condition in intensive care yesterday.

There were three people in the Honda sedan when it rolled at the lagoon end of the beach.

Two male passengers, also from Pahiatua and aged 39 and 21, were wearing seatbelts and were not hurt but the driver was not belted in, Mr Megaw said.

Anders Crofoot, Castlepoint fire chief and owner of Castlepoint Station, said all three men belonged to an Eketahuna-based shearing gang working at his property and staying in the Castlepoint Holiday Park, which he also owns.

"It's basically somebody being stupid on the beach . . . and unfortunately did a fair bit of damage to himself. It looks like a couple of broken legs."

"Hooning" on the beach was reasonably common but was disappointing, because surfers, fishermen and families all relied on being able to drive there. "Some people . . . could ruin it for everyone else."

Crofoot said he had spoken to the shearing gang boss about the workers' behaviour.

"Unfortunately, sometimes [workers] make poor decisions in public in their own time and it reflects on the business."

Serious crash unit investigators from Wellington were able to get to the scene before dark last night, before the rising tide removed evidence, Mr Megaw said.

Beaches are included in the legal definition of roads under the Land Transport Act.

This allows local authorities to set speed limits on them, and the police to enforce traffic laws.

A Masterton District Council spokesman said the speed limit on Castlepoint beach was 50kmh.

The beach also forms part of a Department of Conservation reserve and the department could close the beach to traffic if "hooning" behaviour worsened over summer, DOC Manawatu-Wairarapa partnerships manager Chris Lester said.

"It does come with this time of year, and every summer we work with the district council, police and the local community out there to minimise risks and bad behaviour . . . it would be a real shame if two or three clowns spoiled it for others."

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- The Dominion Post

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