SunLive – Five dead after car crosses center line

Police say they know how a two-vehicle head-on crash that left five people dead occurred in Waikato on Tuesday afternoon, but are still investigating the motive.

Two people died in one vehicle and three in the other when they collided on State Highway 3, at Ōhaupō, north of Te Awamutu, shortly before 4.45pm.

Speaking to the media, Inspector Jeff Penno says one of the cars involved crossed the center line.

“At this point we don’t know why it happened, we know a vehicle crossed the center line… but we need to find out why it happened.”

It is a horrendous event and the thoughts of the emergency services are with the families and friends of the victims who are on a long journey of pain and suffering, he says.

Police have not revealed who the victims are at this time, but Jeff says the victims’ families have been informed.

Any impairment caused by drugs or alcohol is a focus in this accident, Jeff says.

The scene of Tuesday’s fatal crash on State Highway 3, north of Te Awamutu. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Akoorie.

Early indications are that road factors are not to blame in this particular case, although the accident took place in a 100km/h speed zone where there are no center barriers, he says.

Evidence suggests that the safest speed to survive a serious accident on an undivided road is 80 km/h, he says.

Central barriers save lives, but they are difficult to adapt and sometimes they just don’t fit, he says.

Waka Kotahi’s role is to determine priorities regarding the center’s barriers, although police provide them with information about accidents, Jeff says.

Police cannot determine whether all of the crash victims were wearing seat belts, but some were, they say.

Jeff Syas police do their job to save lives.

“Our job is to make sure people on the road follow the rules, are sober, are alert and drive according to the conditions and their ability.

“So when something goes wrong, yes, we take it personally. But equally that gives us the motivation and the passion to do what we do, and if that motorist decides to abuse us for it, we don’t respond; we remember this event. and say that’s why we do what we do.”

Waipā Mayor Susan O’Regan said Morning report that the location where the accident occurred “is not what I would say is a notable hot spot.”

The accident is “heartbreaking and heartbreaking at the same time,” he says.

The crash site would have been horrendous for those first on the scene and the emergency services have done an incredible job responding to the “grim” circumstances, he says.

He thanks emergency workers for their service and those who were the first people on the scene “for acting quickly and doing the right thing.”