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Fatal plunge for Masterton man

By Hayley Gastmeier, Emily Norman and Beckie Wilson

Garth Katene Weston died after the car he was in plunged into a river off a bridge on Te Ore Ore Bideford Rd yesterday.

Family of the 37-year-old Masterton man and local kaumatua gathered to watch as the silver vehicle was lifted from the Whangaehu River.

Cordons were in place as the Serious Crash Unit investigated the scene.

The crushed vehicle is lifted from the Whangaehu River. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON
The crushed vehicle is lifted from the Whangaehu River. PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER, BECKIE WILSON

The crash happened at about 1.20pm, and the vehicle was pulled from the river at about 5pm.

Henry Bunny of Wairarapa Livestock, who had been waiting to get through the police cordon to pick up lambs, had grown up in the area and described the drop from the bridge as “pretty decent”.

“It’s the height of a power pole,” he said.

“Probably at least four or five metres. It’s quite a deep little creek.”

A man who lives in the area, James McKay, said his daughter-in-law had heard the bang of the crash.

It was the first fatal crash in that spot that he knew of.

“There could have been the odd minor one that you never hear of, but there hasn’t been a fatal one,” he said.

Where the vehicle went off the bridge and into the Whangaehu River on Te Ore Ore Bideford Rd.
Where the vehicle went off the bridge and into the Whangaehu River on Te Ore Ore Bideford Rd.

Another local farmer said his partner was in their front paddock with their horses when the crash occurred.

She had described it as a very loud bang.

Acting Traffic Sergeant Shayne Nolan said yesterday police would not release the name of the crash victim.

Only one vehicle had been involved in the crash, with the man being the sole occupant of that vehicle.

Te Ore Ore Bideford Road was closed from Masterton Castlepoint Rd to Mangapurupuru Rd, with diversions in place.

The re-opened at 7pm.

Including yesterday’s crash, nine people have died on Wairarapa roads this year.

January 24: Marc Burgiss, of South Wairarapa, was killed when his motorbike collided with a four-wheel drive on Cape Palliser Rd, south of Martinborough. Life Flight’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter was first emergency crew to arrive at the crash scene at 11.40am, with crew confirming the 55-year-old man died at the scene.

January 31: Hoani Wiremu Korewha, and Pacer Willacy-Scott, both 15, of Featherston died after fleeing police in Masterton. The vehicle failed to stop for police and crashed into a light-pole on Queen St. The two teenagers later died as a result of their injuries.

May 21: Benjamin Young of Lower Hutt was killed after being thrown from a vehicle that crashed into the flooded Waipoua River in the early hours of the morning. The 35-year-old’s body was found next to the bridge, a short distance from where the car was almost completely submerged. Three others were winched to safety from the rooftop of the submerged car.

June 5: Dannevirke’s Roger Chappell, and Eric Bird from Pahiatua died as a result of a two-car crash on SH2 near Mt Bruce at noon. Chappell, 42, had been trapped in the wreck, but was freed by emergency services and died soon afterwards, despite efforts to resuscitate him. Bird, 77, died in Wellington Hospital on Sunday night.

September 29: American honeymooner Douglas Dietz was killed on a rural Martinborough road. The 29-year-old was driving a rental vehicle which was discovered nose-first in a ditch on Shooting Butts Rd just after 7am by a passing member of the public. He had not been wearing a seatbelt.

October 30: Glen Morgan was killed in a crash just north of Eketahuna. The 58-year-old motorcyclist from Masterton died when a north-bound vehicle crossed the centreline into his lane on SH2.


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