Fire and ambulance rescue crews worked for about four hours in treacherous conditions and atop the precariously-balanced wreckage of a truck to rescue its critically injured driver between Napier and Taupō on Saturday.
The crash happened about 55km northeast of Napier on State Highway 5, between the Mohaka River Bridge and the summit at Te Haroto.
Several metres down a bank, the truck was suspended by trees as rescuers worked to free the man amid fears of a further drop of up to 30m into a ravine. It was not till about 1.30pm that police announced he had been freed and was on his way by ambulance to Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Hastings.
The Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter landed at the scene but the decision was made to transport the man by ambulance because of the critical nature of his injuries, said rescue trust general manager Ian Wilmot.
He remained in a critical condition late on Sunday, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board reported.
The curtain-sided truck, without a trailer, was travelling towards Napier and crossed the road before crashing. It was described as a single-vehicle crash, but police inquiries were continuing.
Fire and Emergency NZ Napier senior station officer Ryan McCarty told Radio New Zealand the truck was held above the ravine by two large trees that snapped in the crash.
“So he was sort of hanging – the truck was wedged against one bank and the back side was overhanging the ravine,” McCarty said. “The ravine was a quite a steep drop underneath, probably a good 30m. As far as extractions go it was probably about as hard as they come.”
A “variety” of tools were used to cut the cab apart to remove the man from the wreckage after it was secured to a ground anchor on one side of a bank and to a tree to stop it falling any further, he told Hawke’s Bay Today.
A motorist who arrived at the scene soon afterwards said it was about 30 minutes later that before emergency service crews arrived.
Conditions were wet and…