Two crashes in Te Awamutu after downpour

By Colin Thorsen, Dean Taylor

Waipa Networks linesmen extricate the Holden from the smashed pole.
Waipa Networks linesmen extricate the Holden from the smashed pole.

Police are reminding motorists to watch their speed and drive to the conditions after two crashes in the early hours of Monday morning at about the same time — when the district was hit by rain after a dry spell.

The most serious crash occurred soon after 3am when the driver of a southbound Mazda Eunos crossed the centreline and smashed into a parked Holden Commodore on Kihikihi Rd near Bridgman Rd.

The southbound Mazda Eunos that crossed Kihikihi Rd and crashed head on into a parked Holden Commodore in the early hours of Monday morning.
The southbound Mazda Eunos that crossed Kihikihi Rd and crashed head on into a parked Holden Commodore in the early hours of Monday morning.

The impact brought down a power pole carrying high and low voltage lines, as well as a high voltage underground feed and the streetlight circuit, resulting in a power outage to about 2000 customers on the west Te Awamutu feeder.

A local man driving into Te Awamutu to pick up his son from work at the time told the Courier he saw the spectacular crash unfolding in front of him.

"I was trying to work out where these lights were coming from. Suddenly, this car heading south hit a parked Commodore on the opposite side of the road, sending it backwards at a great rate of knots," he said.

"The impact set off a huge flash of lights, like a fireball.

"I immediately rang 111 then phoned my wife to tell her to pick up our son.

"I could see all the power lines dangling over the Commodore and was surprised that the door of the Mazda could open after such an impact.

"The dazed driver started walking across the road after about five minutes.

"By that time Waipa Networks and the fire brigade had arrived and fireman yelled out to the driver to stay in his car.

The driver was subsequently treated by St John Ambulance staff and transported to Waikato Hospital.

One of the neighbours said he was woken by the massive bang and flashing lights.

"Everyone in our neighbourhood seemed to turn out to see what had happened, even those down in Swarbrick Drive, he said.

"I've been living in Kihikihi Road for four years and I've now seen two head-on crashes and two power poles taken out."

Both vehicles were extensively damaged and the cost of repairs to public infrastructure by Waipa Networks, and private electrical repairs for some homeowners, is expected to run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Waipa Networks customer services manager Kerry Watson said fault staff attended the crash to make the scene safe and then carried out switching work to restore power to the bulk of customers within about an hour.

Waipa Networks had to deploy power pole crews, underground cable crews and jointers, faults staff and electricians to carry out work at specific stages.

Power was restored to remaining customers throughout the afternoon and most repairs were complete by 5pm, apart from a handful of properties which were left isolated so testing could be carried out inside the homes.

Kerry said the only remaining damage is to street lights in the vicinity.

The second crash occurred on SH3/Ohaupo Road south of Ohaupo Village when a northbound Falcon XR8 left the road, crashed through a wire barrier and into a paddock.

Waipa Towing pulls the crashed Falcon XR8 out of the paddock on Ohaupo Rd.
Waipa Towing pulls the crashed Falcon XR8 out of the paddock on Ohaupo Rd.

No-one was injured in the crash.

NZTA says the new flexible barriers did their job — they are designed to slow down the vehicle before it could hit something less forgiving.

The high-tension wire cables are designed to flex and the posts bend or break — absorbing energy and reducing the impact on vehicle occupants.

NZTA contractors were on site repairing the damage during the morning.

- Te Awamutu Courier

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