Drivers save the day at Mapua crash


The first person on the scene of last night’s horrific car crash near Mapua is praising the actions of everyone who helped out including a man who probably saved the life of one of the drivers.

Nelson’s Vincent Dickie and his partner Pania were driving on the Ruby Bay By-Pass near the turn-off to Mapua at around 5pm on Thursday when two cars collided directly in front of their car. Vincent says one of the cars involved in the crash flipped and caught fire but fortunately a passerby had a fire extinguisher and raced over and put the fire out.

“The accident took place in what seemed like slow motion and Pania said ‘this is a very dangerous intersection’. As she said that two cars collided and one car flipped onto its bonnet, went high in the air and rolled and bounced over the guard rail, losing a wheel and pieces flying everywhere.

“It landed upside down with the underneath of the engine on fire not far from us. It was surreal as we worked out what to do on a busy highway at 5pm.

“First thing to do was try find a fire extinguisher from passing vehicles. Fortunately, someone had one and a guy got the fire out – who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t.”

Vincent says the man’s actions were a life saver and soon there were about 20 people on the scene helping out.

“We had to carefully flip the car to free the young guy who was trapped. We secured the car with a tow rope onto the guard rail and waited for emergency services to arrive.

The young guy had a broken leg and I don’t know what else internally, but he was conscious and I was amazed he was still alive after what we saw. Airbags played an important part in saving him.

“I spent a little time with the other crash victim, a lady in her early 60s, and all I can say is they are both lucky to be alive – she had airbags too.”

Vincent says he is “blown away by the good people who put their lives at risk to put out the fire and flip the car back. He also says it’s a “great idea to have airbags and a fire extinguisher on board your vehicle.”

“Thank goodness for emergency services and the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.”

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter pilot Pilot Tim Douglas-Clifford says they arrived as a person was being cut out of one of the cars by the Mapua and Richmond fire brigades.

“It was just carnage. There was a car over the bank with people trapped in it and another one on the road.”

He says they carried the trapped person to Nelson Hospital with serious injuries.

“There were two people in the other car who were taken by ambulance to hospital.”

The rescue helicopter crew had a busy night, attending a second car incident immediately following the Mapua collision.

“After that we went straight over to Westport to take a patient from a car roll over to Christchurch with suspected spinal injuries.”