Peo­ple rush to help driver es­cape crash

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - STAFF RE­PORTERS

‘‘... and that's when I saw them all run­ning from the car and then I could hear the sound of the brakes and the horn from the train.’’

Taui John­son had just bought a moc­cachino on a fine Waikato morn­ing and was driv­ing south when he slammed on his brakes.

‘‘There was a bloody car stuck in the mid­dle of the rail­way tracks,’’ John­son said.

It was about 20 min­utes past seven on Satur­day when he came on the scene where State High­way 27 crosses the rail­way tracks in the south end of Mata­mata.

About five peo­ple were around the car when John­son stopped and wound down his win­dow. He could hear the crashed car’s horn con­stantly sound­ing. He whipped out his cam­era and started shoot­ing.

‘‘I thought, this will be good for My Story on Snapchat and that’s when I saw them all run­ning from the car and then I could hear the sound of the brakes and the horn from the train and that’s when I re­alised, holy moly, there is ac­tu­ally a train com­ing here.’’

Ev­ery­one around the car scat­tered and about 10 sec­onds later, the train smashed into the car.

‘‘That’s when I thought, I hope there’s no one stuck in the car.’’ There wasn’t. A nearby res­i­dent said the driver, a man in his 40s, had been head­ing north from the race­course and hit the sig­nal box as he crossed over the tracks.

His car ended me­tres from the road, sit­ting at right an­gles to the tracks. He was helped from the wrecked car by lo­cals and there was no one else in the Hyundai.

The back end of the car was still on the tracks when the north­bound freight train car­ry­ing logs to Tau­ranga hit it.

The res­i­dent said the train driver tried to stop, but couldn’t.

John­son, whose fa­ther is a train driver, was con­cerned for those on board the train.

‘‘He wouldn’t have known what was go­ing on in­side the car or, in fact, if any­one was in­side the car.’’

The train was go­ing ‘‘slow enough’’ when it hit the rear sec­tion of the car, spin­ning it 90 de­grees. The train came to a stop a short dis­tance later.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called at 7.21am on Satur­day to the crash on the rail tracks at the south end of Mata­mata on State High­way 27.

The driver, the sole oc­cu­pant, was helped from the car be­fore the train hit it, North­ern Fire Com­mu­ni­ca­tions shift man­ager Colin Un­der­down.

Am­bu­lance staff also at­tended the scene and po­lice said there were no in­juries.

A trans­former was dam­aged, ac­cord­ing to the fire ser­vice. Roads were briefly closed around the crash site.

REXINE HAWES

The cross­ing at Firth Street and SH27 was where a train hit a car. Taui John­son

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