Crash raises road toll to 11

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

A family outing to the Waitomo caves ended in tragedy for an Auckland family when their van was involved in a head-on crash with a car near Te Awamutu.

The only passenger in the car died at the scene of the crash on Otorohanga Road near Kihikihi, at 2.45pm.

The 34-year-old male driver of the car and the 30-year-old male driver of the van were in critical condition in Waikato Hospital tonight.

Seven other passengers from the van, all Chinese nationals from Auckland, were in a serious condition.

The family were on a day-trip when the accident occurred.

A Cantonese-speaking interpreter was called in to help medical staff communicate with the patients.

Two Mandarin-speaking doctors were on duty and also able to assist.

A seven-year-old boy, with good English, who was in the van was able to help staff communicate and give names and ages of the injured.

"He was a very brave boy," said a nurse.

The driver of the van and a 20-year-old passenger were newly-weds.

Waikato Hospital emergency department clinical unit director Shameem Safih said medical staff were called in from leave and other staff extended shifts to cope with the injured.

"We had a good team in place for every patient - everything went smoothly."

Waikato spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill told NZPA the hospital was called and warned of massive casualties and have experience in such situations.

In February last year 17 people were injured when their bus left the road and slid on its side for 20 metres near Tokoroa.

The 15 Korean tourists, the driver and tour guide were treated at Tokoroa and Waikato Hospitals.

Three women, two aged 19 and the other 34, had their right arms amputated following the crash.

Eleven people have died on the roads so far this holiday period.

Otorohanga Road near Kihikihi will be closed for several hours while police investigate the crash. 

Other road deaths this holiday period:

* A 13-year-old girl was killed last night by a trail motorbike.

* A 22-year-old man, not yet named, died after a car plunged over a 200m cliff near Waverley, in Taranaki, about 8pm on December 30.

* Northlander Peter John Emerson, 61, from Urquharts Bay, was killed after being crushed by a tractor about 8am on December 30. He had been driving a tractor towing a boat on Urquharts Bay Rd, about 35km from Whangarei, when it went off a seawall, rolled and crushed him.

* Ahuwhenua Witika, 78, and Hinewai Witika, 81, of Dannevirke died when their car hit a bank after failing to negotiate a moderate bend on the Foxton-Shannon Road about 1.30pm on December 29.

* Thomas Manawa Pohio, 53, of Lawrence, died when his vehicle vehicle crossed the centreline on State Highway 8 near the Central Otago town of Lawrence, burst through a farm fence and hit a power pole about 7pm on December 28.

* Cody Rewi, 17, was killed in a head-on collision on Taihape Road near Napier about 8.45pm on December 27. He was the only person in the car.

* Late on Boxing Day a 43-year-old man was killed after he lost control of a motorcycle and collided with a lamp post in Halcombe, Manawatu.

* Edward Paul, 35, of Mangere was killed at 4.30am on Christmas Day when his car rolled after failing to take a corner on SH2 in the Waikato.

It is suspected 80-year-old Eric Kozanic died from a heart attack before crashing on SH1 at Warkworth on Christmas Day, and his death is not yet being counted in the toll.

Police have not included an 80-year-old woman, who died this morning when she drove off the road at Huntly, in the road toll it is believed a medical condition could have caused the crash.

The death today takes the Christmas holiday road toll - which runs from 4pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on January 3 - to 11.

Last year, nine people died on the nation's roads over the same period.

-with NZPA

- Stuff

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