Waikato Police are now investigating the death of an elderly man at a Waihi transfer station yesterday.
The man's death is being investigated as a road death bringing the region's death toll to 44 - the highest in the country.
District Road Policing Manager, Inspector Marcus Lynam, said Serious Crash Unit investigators are at the scene on Dean Cres following the incident that critically injured an 84-year-old man shortly after 10am.
The quick-as-a-flash incident unfolded in front of the tip operator Alan Irvine at 10.15am on the western outskirts of Waihi.
The man was the second customer to roll into the Hauraki District Council facility at the end of Dean Cres that day.
Mr Irvine told him where to dump his single bag of rubbish.
He watched as the man drove his Toyota Corona to the edge of the tarseal platform as if he was going to reverse into position, but he noticed the door open.
Mr Irvine isn't sure what happened next.
"It was so violent," Mr Irvine recalled at the scene.
"He must have somehow got his feet caught up in the pedals and he's hit the accelerator full on. It's gone at full speed in reverse and done a full 360.
"The car was going that fast he didn't have the time to do anything."
Part way through the skid the man's torso was thrust out the door and dragged along the rough tarseal before he was thrown out of the driver's seat.
"It was pretty scary. The car going full bore backwards. It really spun around so fast it was like being thrown off a horse or something." The car stopped just as suddenly only millimetres from where the man lay.
"When he first got ejected, I can hear it now, [he was] just crying out for help - he was crying out," Mr Irvine said.
"He came to rest so close to the car I thought it was on top of him."
Mr Irvine described it as strange unfortunate accident.
He phoned 111 immediately and called for help to a couple who had been sorting their recycling nearby.
"We were lucky there was an expert firefighter who arrived. He came into my office and got towels and the first aid box. When I finally got off the 111 call I came over."
The man, who was a regular at the station and was "always nice and polite", was in a bad way.
His head was bleeding and one of his arms was a bloody mess after being dragged across the chipped seal at speed.
There was "quite a bit of blood" yet the man remained conscious throughout and "must have been in a lot of pain".
Mr Irvine said the man was by himself in the area at the time and had acted normally until the rapid reversal.
"If there were more people, he could have hit someone for sure. I was pretty shaken up at the time."
Waihi Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Moe Stevens said he had never seen anything like it.
They tended to the man in the transfer station yard then transferred him to St John staff.
The rescue helicopter was called but the man was eventually taken via ambulance to Waikato Hospital in a serious condition but died overnight.
"It's just one of those sad things, especially at this time of year," Mr Stevens said.
- © Fairfax NZ News