Man, woman confirmed dead in fiery crash

07:40, Jan 09 2014

The two people killed in a fiery three-car crash on State Highway 1 yesterday were related.

Police communications spokeswoman Sara Stavropoulos could not confirm the nature of their relationship, but a source in Levin said they were mother and son.

The 51-year-old woman and her 20-year-old male passenger, both from Levin, died just after midnight in an impact that saw a huge explosion and all three vehicles involved catch fire.

An autopsy had yet to be completed on the bodies and their names were unlikely to be released until tomorrow.

The crash happened behind the convoy of a 24-metre long, 11-metre wide catamaran, which was being transported from Palmerston North to Foxton via Sanson overnight.

Those involved in the carting of the boat had been spoken to, but they were not involved in the crash, Stavropoulos said.


The moving company - Central House Movers - did everything right, with pilot vehicles at the front and rear, signage and lights, she said.

Central House Movers was five hours into the nine-hour shift of the catamaran and said yesterday there was nothing the company could have done differently to prevent the smash.

''We did everything by the book," said company truck driver Matt Nairn, who had been transporting the top deck of the boat along SH1.

A Big Chill frozen foodstuffs truck had slowed down to allow for the wide load ahead of it, causing the car behind it to reduce its speed as well. 

But a truck travelling behind the car did not realise what had happened and crashed into the car, forcing it under the back right side of the Big Chill truck. 

The fire burned so intensely the road surface melted.

One person in the Nissan vehicle died at the scene and police believed a second person had been in the vehicle, but could not be confirmed yesterday due to the extensive damage to the car. 

The car was taken away for further analysis to determine whether there was a second victim.

Neither truck driver was injured in the crash, but both were taken to hospital for assessment. 

The crash closed State Highway 1 between Sanson and Foxton until 3.45pm yesterday, when it reopened with a 50kmh speed restriction following fresh road repairs.

A video was shot by a motorist travelling north, in the opposite direction, who had pulled over to allow the trucks pass.