Two Christchurch women, one a young mother, died in separate crashes in the Canterbury high country during the weekend.
Faith Maree Wood, 18, and Tracy Ann Shipston, 39, died about 60 kilometres apart on State Highway 73.
In the first crash, a van carrying six young people plummeted more than 70 metres down a cliff between Cass and Bealey, just before 6am on Saturday.
Police said the passengers in the back were unrestrained, sitting or lying on a mattress.
The group was driving back to Christchurch when the crash occurred.
The Mitsubishi van came to rest on railway lines below the highway.
A truck driver was on the scene almost immediately and called emergency services, but Wood - a fulltime mother of one who was originally from Greymouth - died.
The five other occupants of the van - three men and two females - were taken to Christchurch Hospital. A spokeswoman said yesterday the patients, aged from 16 to 22, were in a stable condition.
Police were astounded anyone survived.
Sergeant Franco Lovrich said there were no back seats in the van. "We've found a mattress nearby so it appears everyone was just on the back in the mattress. They were not wearing seatbelts or restrained."
Lovrich said they had yet to formally interview the driver and other passengers.
A tribute page online had been set up for Wood, and friends and family displayed an outpouring of grief.
"This page is in memory of Faith Wood - a beautiful soul taken too soon. Faith changed her whole world for her daughter," a post on the page reads.
"Fly high angel, fly high, we will miss you so much. We'll see you on the other side."
Later on Saturday, emergency services were called to an accident on the same highway after a car collided head-on with a bus near Springfield..
Shipston, 39, died instantly when her vehicle crossed the centre line and smashed head-on into a tour bus, on West Coast Rd about 5.30pm.
The car was split in two from the impact.
"The front part went with the bus and the back part stayed in the middle of the road," Lovrich said.
The bus driver was shaken, but uninjured. There were no passengers in the bus at the time.
Police investigations into both crashes were continuing.
"It's just a real tragedy that we've had two [fatal accidents] in the same area on the same day," Lovrich said.
Yesterday, police were called to a third serious crash involving a car and truck, this time on State Highway 1, near Sheats Rd, Dunsandel, about 2.30pm.
One injured person was airlifted to Christchurch Hospital.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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