Head-on crash at Kawarau Gorge
Three elderly people were airlifted to Dunedin Hospital and four others injured after a head-on car crash in Kawarau Gorge near Queenstown this afternoon.
State Highway 6 was closed while emergency services worked to cut an injured man in his 70s from one car and transport another six injured people to hospital in Dunedin and Queenstown.
St John Central Otago Southland Lakes territory manager Kelvin Perriman said three elderly people were in a silver sedan when it collided with a black SUV about 1.30pm.
All three were seriously injured and the driver, a man in his 70s, was cut from the vehicle by Fire Service volunteers and transported to Dunedin Hospital with serious head and chest injuries.
Two elderly women were flown to Lakes District Hospital in Frankton for assessments and were stabilised before being airlifted to Dunedin Hospital for further treatments.
They suffered head and chest injuries. Emergency medical staff flew to Queenstown from Dunedin and returned with the women.
The elderly group were understood to be New Zealanders on holiday in the region while the other vehicle was carrying four passengers believed to be foreign nationals.
Perriman said the Fire Service and St John managed to cut one patient from a vehicle and transport all patients by air or ambulance within 45 minutes of arriving.
‘‘Four occupants in the other vehicle were all taken by ambulance to Lakes District Hospital, they were all minor to moderate injuries.’’
Fire Service officer-in-charge Dave Christie said the elderly male driver was cut from the vehicle.
‘‘It was pretty tough, the car was pretty mangled. We used spreaders and cutters, all the gear we’ve got.’’
Police closed SH6 temporarily then restricted traffic flows while emergency services went to work.
The crash was about one kilometre on the Gibbston side of the AJ hackett bungy bridge.