Driver injured in car plunge

19:57, Mar 30 2014
nelson van crash
WRECKED: The small van after crashing down a 15-metre bank and then having its door cut open.

A man driving a small van was lucky to escape death after it plunged 15 metres over a bank, through a vegetable patch, and rolled several times.

Witnesses said the 18-year-old driver told police he was hurrying home on Brook St at about 5.30pm to avoid setting off an alarm from his home detention ankle monitor.

Nelson senior fire station officer Steve Shackleton said the man was driving up Brook St when he lost control of the vehicle, flew over a 15-metre bank and hit a "solid" washing line.

nelson van crash
WRECKED: The small van after crashing down a 15-metre bank and then having its door cut open.

The small van rolled a couple of times before landing upright in the back yard of a startled resident who was only metres away.

"I suppose it must have been like being in a washing machine," Mr Shackleton said.

"The chap is pretty darn lucky."


Firefighters worked for 40 minutes to cut the vehicle open and free the man, who had not been wearing a seatbelt and ended up in the back of the small Nissan S-Cargo. He was in a stable condition in Nelson Hospital today.

Property owner Andrew Dunning said he had been hanging out washing when he saw the van flying over the bank before it ploughed into his vegetable garden and the washing line.

"I usually take my dog out at that time of night and I was just by the shed when the car passed me.

"My first impression was to check if someone was dead or not.

"The adrenalin just kicks in and you do what you need to do."

The man told him his arm was badly hurt and he felt like he was paralysed.

"I am very surprised he is still alive to be honest, you just have to look at the state of the car.

"I could see he was definitely in a lot of pain.

"I did not want to move him in case he had a back injury. I am so glad the car didn't hit me or the house. I am a bit shaken up but I'm not too bad, considering."

He heard the man tell police had was hurrying home to avoid breaching his home detention conditions.

The man was wearing an ankle bracelet, he said.

He told him he had lost control of the vehicle when he swerved to avoid a cyclist.

Mr Dunning's neighbour, Rob Lyver, said he came home to find three police cars and a fire engine.

"I got home and I could see the state of the garden and the car.

"I was just so worried for my neighbour, that the car may have hit his house."

The car was completely "totalled", which was not surprising seeing as it had flown through the air before crashing, he said.

Police investigations into the crash are continuing.