A high-speed car chase that ended in a vehicle catapulting into a power pole is being described as the “best possible outcome”.
Emergency services from Greytown and Featherston were called to a car versus power pole incident on State Highway 2 near Tauherenikau at 2.15pm on Saturday.
A medical event reportedly caused the driver to leave the southbound lane and crash headlong into a power pole carrying 11,000-volt lines.
Greytown Fire Brigade deputy chief officer Seth Rance said the person had extricated himself when emergency services arrived. The brigade provided scene protection, cordoning off the live wires, and diverting traffic.
The driver was transported by ambulance to Wairarapa Hospital with moderate injuries.
The crash closed the road between Greytown and the intersection at SH2 and No 1 Line for several hours while the Serious Crash Unit [SCU] attended, and power was restored to 48 households.
Witnesses described it as a terrifying ordeal and said if were not for the heroic actions of other motorists, there would have been deaths.
The driver was reportedly travelling south toward Featherston when the bonnet of his car flew up.
Motorists encouraged the driver off the road just south of Greytown and helped close the bonnet.
“My wife talked to him and he seemed fully coherent.
“We even offered to drive the car, he was an older guy. But then he just took off at 80kmh … [the bonnet] flew up again after another 200 metres.”
The motorist, who preferred not to be named, said they took chase flashing their lights to warn oncoming traffic.
A ute travelling in the northbound lane saw the red vehicle swerving across the highway and did a U-turn.
“We pulled alongside him and made various attempts to get him to stop.
“We tried to talk to him through the window, but he just drove faster; we assumed he was in straight shock or unconscious.”
The ute driver, who had his wife and three young children in the car, said he felt compelled to act.
“When he went into the oncoming lane, the fact was he was going to have a head-on with another family.
“This is a big car, the idea was just to get in front of him and force him to stop.”
Witnesses said the vehicles travelled side-by-side for about a kilometre before the crash.
“The [red] car veered right, hit the ute, and jumped into the air. He didn’t brake.
“The lines came down on top of him.”
Another witness said if the ute driver had not acted, there would have been deaths.
“If they hadn’t done what they did it would have been much more serious; he was heading into oncoming traffic.
“It’s the best possible outcome. It’s horrific that he’s injured, but it could have been so much worse.”
A van of nurses who witnessed the crash was on the scene in seconds and administered first aid.
The van driver said it was clear that medication had distorted the driver’s ability to make good decisions.
A police spokesperson confirmed the patient’s status was downgraded from serious to moderate, and the SCU had not launched an official investigation.
The highway reportedly reopened shortly after 7pm.
Powerco said two field crews worked to replace the power pole, and power was restored to all customers by 8.30pm.