Angler moved from spot minutes before truck crash

CAITLIN WALLACE
Last updated 09:17 12/03/2014
truck v bridge, south waikato
Caitlin Wallace
OVER THE EDGE: A truck was left with part of its cab dangling over a bridge near the Arapuni Dam, west of Putaruru.

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If Tony Stephens had not moved to the other side of the Arapuni Bridge, his morning would have turned into tragedy.

The Putaruru man was well into his daily fishing ritual at Lake Arapunui when a truck crashed into the spot where he had been standing only minutes earlier. The impact left the cab and front left wheel dangling over the bridge after it appeared the driver lost control after a medical incident.

"I saw the truck coming round and he didn't stop but he wasn't speeding.

"You hear these people say it happens in slow motion, well it did," he said.

Mr Stephens helped the driver out of the truck and described him as 'staggered'.

"He was in total shock," he said.

Although he acknowledged his near miss, Mr Stephens said he was in disbelief of the crash itself.

Mr Stephens said the railing had stopped the driver going over the estimated 6m drop into the river.

Mr Stephens is a familiar sight at the bridge, parking his red van nearby and waving at vehicles using the bridge.

He had waved to the driver as he usually did, but this time he did not get his usual toot back and instead witnessed the truck plough into the railing.

It was unusual for the crash to happen on the bridge, according to Mr Stephens.

"I've been going there for about 10 years but nothing like this has ever happened," he said.

The driver was taken to Tokoroa Hospital by ambulance shortly after the accident.

Putaruru chief fire officer, Graeme Hoole said the brigade was called out to the bridge at about 8.15am where it stabilised the truck.

Sergeant Ashley Gore of police northern communications said a medical condition may have caused the driver to lose control. Mr Hoole said this was the first accident he had attended on the bridge.

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- Waikato

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