Motorist survives train encounter
The driver of a train involved in a level crossing crash with a Jeep yesterday morning has a simple message for motorists – the train wins every time.
The crash happened about 5am yesterday at the level crossing on Tawhiti Rd, near Hawera, and left the 46-year-old Jeep driver in hospital with serious head injuries.
The vehicle was written off while there appeared to be no damage to the train.
Police are still investigating the crash and deciding whether to lay charges.
But Sergeant Lincoln McCrea told the Taranaki Daily News it appeared the man had driven straight through the lights at the level crossing.
The crossing was controlled by lights and bells, he said.
There are no barrier arms on any Hawera crossings.
The train driver, Normanby man Andrew Hamblyn who has 10 years' experience, was advised by his KiwiRail bosses not to speak to the media.
However, he posted about the incident on Facebook, including a warning for motorists not to try to beat trains at crossings.
"Had a bit of a wild start to the day today – saw nothing and then `boom', there was a car flying through the air in front of my train.
"My first ever level crossing smash. Take note people, train wins every time."
St John operations manager Ian May said the Hawera driver was in Taranaki Base Hospital with serious pelvis, head and chest injuries.
"He's extremely lucky he wasn't killed," Mr May said.
"He wasn't trapped because the train removed the whole driver's side of the car."
However, Mr McCrea and Sergeant Phil Taikato both said the man had not suffered serious injuries.
"He's shaken up, he got one hell of a fright," Mr McCrea said.
Mr Taikato said their report showed a suspected head injury.
"Because the attending officers deemed the train needed to be moved for further safety issues, and at the time they didn't think that the injuries were life threatening, our Serious Crash Unit did not attend."
KiwiRail senior communications adviser Candice Johanson said records show one previous incident at the Tawhiti Rd crossing – a non-fatal collision in May 2001.
Taranaki Daily News