Section of road with “very high use”

The district mayor says the stretch of Waikato highway where five people died in a head-on crash yesterday is not particularly dangerous, but it is particularly busy.

Emergency services were called to the accident on State Highway 3 at Ōhaupō, between Te Awamutu and Hamilton, at 4.44pm yesterday.

“Police can confirm that the three occupants of one vehicle and the two occupants of the other vehicle died at the scene,” Waikato Highway Police Manager Inspector Jeff Penno said.

“Losing five lives in these circumstances is heartbreaking and our thoughts are with all the families affected.”

Waipā Mayor Susan O’Regan told Breakfast this morning: “I just want to express my deepest condolences to the grieving family and friends of those who were tragically abducted.”

He said police were working to reconstruct the circumstances of the crash, particularly to provide answers to the families.

“Informing the mayor is not really one of his priorities, and I totally accept that,” O’Regan said.

“But look, I have absolutely no doubt that the people of Te Awamutu will collectively embrace those grieving families, and support and care for them in their time of grief.”

Is it a dangerous area?

It’s not a particularly dangerous stretch of road, O’Regan said, but it is very busy.

“From Te Awamutu to Hamilton and obviously the airport, it’s a high traffic area,” the mayor explained.

“It has a number of safety features around it. In some sections, it has sort of a quad lane in places,” he added.

“(There are) many safety features, but in this part there was no barrier between the two lanes of traffic.

“I wouldn’t classify it as particularly dangerous, personally, but it is widely used.”

It was a state road, not a council-controlled road, O’Regan added.

The road was reopened around midnight Tuesday, under traffic control while site cleanup was completed.