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‘Families will never be the same’: Driver killed after truck and trailer crashes down bank in Lewis Pass

The Lewis Pass (SH7) is closed between the Hanmer Springs turnoff and Springs Junction.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

The Lewis Pass (SH7) is closed between the Hanmer Springs turnoff and Springs Junction.

A driver has been killed and the South Island’s Lewis Pass has been closed after a truck and trailer crashed.

The death brings this year’s Christmas holiday road toll to five.

The truck, carrying fruit and vegetables, crashed about 10 metres down a bank, a Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said.

The crash in the Lewis Pass, also known as State Highway 7, happened about 3.30am on Sunday, between the Boyle river and the Nina River track, he said.

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Police said one person, the only occupant of the truck, died at the scene.

“An investigation is under way to determine the circumstances,” a spokeswoman said.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said the Lewis Pass was closed between the Hanmer Springs turnoff and Springs Junction.

Holiday road toll

Five people have now died on New Zealand roads since the holiday period began.

On Christmas Eve, one person was killed in a two-car crash that injured five others south of Taupō.

On Christmas Day, a person died after a truck and car collided in Waihola, just south of Dunedin.

A motorcyclist was killed after crashing in Gordonton, in Waikato on December 25.

About 10.30pm on Christmas evening, a pedestrian was hit and killed by a car in New Windsor, Auckland.

The holiday road toll runs until 6am on January 5.

Police assistant commissioner Bruce O’Brien says a number of families will never be the same after five deaths already this holiday period.

Alden Williams/Stuff

Police assistant commissioner Bruce O’Brien says a number of families will never be the same after five deaths already this holiday period.

During last year’s Christmas period, 11 people were killed on New Zealand roads.

‘Families will never be the same’

Police assistant commissioner Bruce O’Brien said it had been “an incredibly tragic start” to the holiday period.

“A number of families will never be the same,” he said.

“While it is too early to determine exactly why these crashes happened, previous experience suggests speed, poor decision-making, distractions and no restraints are likely to feature,” O’Brien said.

Police were expecting roads to continue being busy with people heading off to holiday destinations.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

Senior pupils at Rangiora’s Te Matauru have launched a petition to get their local council to improve road safety outside their school. (First published March 2021)

O’Brien urged people to focus on safety while remaining calm and patient during their journey. People should accept there could be some delays, he said.

He suggested people plan ahead, watch their speed and following distances, pay attention to conditions, and stop for a break if they felt tired.

“Allow plenty of time to get where you are going, especially if you are travelling on roads you don’t know,” he said.

Police would be visible on roads over summer and take enforcement action where necessary.

“But we cannot be everywhere,” O’Brien said.

“Ultimately drivers have the responsibility to keep their passengers, other road users, and themselves safe this holiday period.”



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