Fatal car crash 'one of the worst'

Fireman recalls Gordonton fatal

MATT BOWEN AND JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2012
Chris Hillock

Three men are dead and another man critically injured after the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree on Gordonton Road this morning.

CRASH: Four people were trapped inside the vehicle and had to be cut free, the Fire Service said.
PETER DRURY Zoom
CRASH: Four people were trapped inside the vehicle and had to be cut free, the Fire Service said.
Gordonton Rd
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
DEADLY: Three people died in this car, and one passenger is in a critical condition after a crash yesterday on Gordonton Rd.
James Wine
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
LIFE'S A GIFT: Chartwell senior firefighter James Wine: 'My heart goes out to the families.'

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Firefighter James Wine almost wants his kids to see the horror of yesterday's car smash on Gordonton Rd.

Almost.

The Chartwell Fire Station senior firefighter was first on the scene where three young men died after crashing head-on into a gum tree on the dark rural roadside.

A fourth man, 19, sat unconscious, but still breathing, in the back seat of the crumpled red saloon strewn with empty beer bottles and stinking of booze.

The emergency call came from a passing motorist just after 5am.

"There were a few bystanders there and obviously they were in shock," Mr Wine said of his arrival at the scene between Boyd and Borman roads, northeast of Hamilton.

"We could see straight away that it was a frontal impact and it's a 100kmh road so you know in the back of your mind that it's going to be high speed and obviously the trauma is associated with that."

The car was clamped shut on the dead, but the passenger in the rear left seat had a pulse.

"I had my blinkers on and was focused on the car. We cut the roof off, removed it so it was easier access, but we still brought him out the side."

The survivor suffered critical head and other injuries and was rushed to Waikato Hospital, where he remains in intensive care.

The driver and front seat passenger were both aged 18, the rear right passenger, 19. All were from South Auckland.

Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman has seen hundreds of crash scenes during his long career, but described yesterday morning's as "one of the worst".

The red Nissan ploughed into the tree at speed – the only tree on the stretch of road. There was no pre-impact braking, no time for the driver to react.

The impact was so severe that part of the engine burst through the fire wall, and the shape of the tree trunk was embedded in its bonnet.

"Until we actually get the blood analysed by ESR we can't actually say whether or not the driver was alcohol impaired," Mr Tooman said.

With the crash happening about 5am fatigue could also have been a factor, he said.

Mr Wine said the fire service was attending an increasing number of fatal road accidents, especially in Waikato. There are counsellors available, but humour is Mr Wine's therapy.

He "almost" wants his two children to see what he has seen, so they know what can and does happen.

He puts the macabre images behind him, but they are always there, imprinted in his memory.

"Life's a gift. These guys were so young ... But how many times do you have to say it? It's almost like they have to see it for themselves.

"My heart goes out to the families. it's a huge snowball effect. Three, maybe four guys ... that's going to affect a huge pool of people. Someone's son, someone's brother. Mums and dads will be getting that message that every mum and dad of a teenager dreads."

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- Waikato Times

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