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Crash victim still critical

An SUV and haulage truck were involved in a serious crash on Tuesday on Tauherenikau Bridge. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Witness says: Truck on wrong side of road
Drivers reminded to take breaks

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
[email protected]

A witness to Tuesday’s serious crash in Tauherenikau says he had to swerve to avoid a truck, which crossed the centre line before colliding with a SUV.

A Wairarapa man, understood to be in his early 50s, is in Wellington Hospital with critical injures after being cut free from the SUV, in which he was a passenger.

John Kloeg, of Masterton, only narrowly missed the Regal Haulage truck, then watched the crash unfold in his rear vision mirror.

Kloeg and his wife were about 50 metres in front of the SUV. Both vehicles were heading south.

The truck had been heading north.

“Just before the Tauherenikau Bridge, [the truck] started swerving over the middle line into my lane.

“He was heading straight towards me so I went into his lane and then as I went back into my lane I could see the truck hitting the car behind me in my mirror.”

Kloeg said he pulled over immediately and got on the phone to emergency services while walking to the SUV.

Inside, the woman driver was uninjured, but her husband was in a bad way.

“About five minutes later the ambulance and the fire service arrived, and I stuck around until police turned up.”

Kloeg said it was a close call for him and his wife and it had been a stroke of luck that there had not been an oncoming vehicle following the truck.

“The truck was completely in my lane – it didn’t stop or brake, it just kept on going the same speed.”

Kloeg said he felt for the woman and her injured husband.

“I hope he makes it.”

Both the police Serious Crash Unit and the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit were investigating the 12.40pm collision.

Regal Haulage chief operations officer Ian Palmer spoke to the Times-Age on behalf of the Hamilton-based company.

“Obviously our thoughts are with the person who was injured and their family.

“The investigation will carry on and we will support the police where we need to and provide support to our driver who is in a state of shock.”

He said the company’s drivers covered “a million kilometres a month and as such have a high focus on safety, which is a core value of all our staff”.

But Palmer indicated that the incident was unfortunate.

“It’s something we need to work through.”

Wairarapa police investigation manager, Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Haley Ryan said police were yet to interview the two drivers and confirmed the patient was still in a “critical” condition.

“Our inquiries are still ongoing and there are people involved that are yet to be spoken to.

“However, I’ll take this opportunity to remind truck drivers that are traveling long distance and other drivers to make sure they’re pulling over and having breaks where needed.”

She said the hot conditions could make some people feel tired.

A Wellington Hospital spokesperson said the patient was in intensive care.

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