The fatal crash occurred on Takahue Rd, about 15km south of Kaitāia. Photo / NZME
The man who died when his ute left a road south of Kaitāia and hit a tree could have survived if he’d been wearing a seatbelt, an investigator says.
Emergency services were alerted just after 10pm on Friday after a passer-by came across the crashed vehicle on Takahue Rd, about 4km off State Highway 1.
Kaitāia fire chief Craig Rogers said the first person at the scene was an off-duty medical professional who began CPR on the injured driver.
That was continued by St John medics and volunteer firefighters but the man, who was the ute’s sole occupant, died at the scene.
Senior Constable Jeff Cramp, of the police Serious Crash Unit, said the Toyota Hilux had left a gentle right-hand bend and struck a poplar tree square-on about 4m from the road.
Takahue Rd was sealed at that end, so road condition was not an issue, but there was thick fog at the time.
Evidence in the ute indicated the driver, a 34-year-old local farmer, was not buckled up at the time of the crash.
“He had a possibility of survival if he’d been wearing a seatbelt.”
Drivers familiar with their local roads could become complacent about the risks, he added.
In this case it appeared the driver had overshot the bend, possibly by travelling too fast for the conditions.
The investigation, which would include toxicology tests, was continuing.
Friday night’s crash was a reminder to always wear a seatbelt, to drive with care even on familiar roads, and to drive to the conditions.
“And be especially careful in thick fog, it’s bad news.”
It was best to drive with dipped lights in thick fog because mist refracted headlights set to full beam, reducing visibility even further.
The man’s death brings the Northland toll so far this year to 22, according to Ministry of Transport figures.