Trio lucky to escape from post-party smash

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2014

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Alcohol and speed are likely factors in a post-21st birthday car wreck that nearly claimed the lives of three young men.

The trio were understood to have been leaving a birthday celebration at the Coromandel Rugby Club when the driver clipped a parked vehicle, tore through two fences and crashed into a power pole.

The pole snapped and, along with a transformer, crashed onto the vehicle, cutting power to half the town.

The occupants, aged 19, 20 and 21, all suffered moderate injuries. It is suspected that the driver, who was unlicensed, suffered a broken neck.

They driver lost control of the car in a 50kmh area of Rings Rd, Coromandel, about 3am yesterday.

"It glanced off another vehicle, cleaned out the fences and smacked into a concrete power pole and shunted the arse around so the car was facing back the other way," Coromandel fire chief John Walker said.

The other vehicle was a ute parked on a grass verge.

A witness, who asked not to be named, said the driver was screaming "get me out of here, get me out of here".

"Some of their mates walking home were trying to get them out. It was very messy."

The occupants of the car were yelling and swearing and he suspected they were drunk.

Two of the men were trapped inside the car and fire fighters had to cut them free.

The witness said a nearby resident pulled the driver out of the wreckage.

Waikato District shift commander, Senior Sergeant Dave Litton, said the circumstances were all too familiar.

Alcohol, speed and the lack of licence were all suspected factors, he said.

"The driver is forbidden to drive and not currently holding a licence. He had been previously stopped and told not to drive."

It was a recipe for disaster, Litton said.

"Young people such as these need to give some thought to who they're jumping into a car with before they do. They need to ask themselves, should that person be driving? And whether they should be saying something if they're not jumping in the car.

"It will be a wake-up call to these three people and their families of the consequences of bad decisionmaking. The officer that attended said they were very lucky that it wasn't a lot worse than it was given the speed and the damage done to the car."

The men were driven to Thames Airfield and flown to hospital by rescue helicopter.

Pilot Loren Haisley said the men suffered "a variety of fractures" and other injuries.

A 20-year-old Coromandel man and a 19-year-old Auckland man were in a stable condition yesterday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said.

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A 21-year-old Auckland man was treated in the emergency department and discharged.

Rings Rd resident Hine Witute said the road had a bad reputation for car crashes and young people were known to speed along it.

"It's terrible," she said. "At least they're all alive."

Power was restored by midday.

jonathan.carson@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato

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