Car cut up to find crash victim

Emergency services had to cut a mangled car apart to find out how many people were inside after a horrific fatal smash last night.

They eventually found only the driver was in the car that collided head-on with a truck on State Highway 2 at Mangatawhiri, in the northern Waikato.

"Initially they didn't know how many people were in the car. It was completely mangled, Inspector Ian Brooker of police northern communications centre said.

"It had to be taken away to a yard and cut apart to find out what was inside."

It took emergency services a while to determine the man was the only occupant, Brooker said.

The road was closed and diversion put in place after the crash at about 10.20pm, and reopened at 6am today.

Seven fire engines went to the crash scene, the Fire Service said.

Mangatangi Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief Stephen Pogson said there wasn't much they could do when they arrived at the crash.

The wreckage was underneath the Koheroa Rd overbridge that crosses the new Mangatawhiri bypass, he said.

"I couldn't tell you what make or model [the car] was - it wasn't a pretty sight let's put it that way," he said.

Serious crashes on the notoriously dangerous stretch of road were common years ago, Pogson said, but a series of safety measures, including a 90kmh safe speed zone, had helped.

He said the last "really bad one" in the area was about a year ago.

Police were identifying the man's next of kin and there would not be any further information released until then.