Driver of crashed truck full of horses says they were his first thought post-crash
As his truck fell on to its side on a rural Southland road, Steve Lock could only think of the five horses in the back.
Lock's trusty horse truck collided with a small car at the intersection of Winton-Wreys Bush Rd and Otautau-Wreys Bush Rd about 4.35pm on Tuesday.
The highway, SH96, was closed for a time while debris and the truck was cleared. It reopened about 7.30pm.
Miraculously, all involved, both human and equine, sustained only minor injuries.
Lock was back at his stables at Ascot Park Racecourse on Tuesday evening, because "there were still horses to feed".
The Invercargill-based horse trainer said he drove across the Aparima River bridge about 4.30pm when he saw a white car approaching the highway.
"I tried to get as far across as I could – when you've got horses on you can't just put the brakes on because you're going to cause trouble," he said.
The car hit the front left corner of the truck, tipping it onto its side. Both vehicles were extensively damaged.
"I thought I had control of the old girl and she did come back down, but then she just slowly fell on her side."
Lock said his first thought was for the horses he was transporting for a friend, also in the truck with him.
"It's an uncanny feeling when you're down on the low side of the road and your mate is on top of you," he said.
They clambered through the top window and ran to the back of the truck to check on the horses.
"There was a lot of scrambling and then they stopped. They seemed to know there was a situation and they calmed down."
Two of the horses were standing and three were cast and wedged among partitions and chains, he said.
"It wasn't a nice feeling seeing them like that, but you just had to stay calm and pick them out one at a time," he said.
Lock said he was overwhelmed by the "good horse people" who stopped to help, giving "brilliant" directions on how get the horses out.
A police spokeswoman said the horses were "quickly released" by their owners and firefighters from Ohai and Nightcaps.
The horses were now happily grazing in a paddock in Winton.
"While further steps may be required by police, the investigation is ongoing," the police spokeswoman said.
Despite his lack of injuries, Lock said his truck was "totalled".
"It's not worth a lot of money, you know, to the commercial world, but to me it was worth a million.
"It didn't look a picture, and could probably have used a coat of paint, but that wouldn't have made it run any better."
Lock said he was already moving on from the crash, and offers of loan trucks had started to come in.