Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

'Grim' crash that killed five shocks Waikato community

Publish Date
Wed, 29 May 2024, 7:16am

'Grim' crash that killed five shocks Waikato community

Publish Date
Wed, 29 May 2024, 7:16am

- Five people died in a head-on collision on State Highway 3 in Ōhaupō. 

- ‘Heartbreaking’: Waipā Mayor expresses deep sorrow, thanks emergency responders. 

- Investigation in early stages, police don’t believe environmental factors played major role. 

By Niva Chittock of RNZ 

It has been a tough night for the district following a multi-fatality crash on Waikato’s State Highway 3, Waipā mayor Susan O’Regan says.   

Two vehicles crashed head-on, killing all five occupants at the scene in Ōhaupō, north of Te Awamutu, about 4.44pm on Tuesday. 

Three people were in one vehicle, and two in the other. 

O’Regan said her first reaction, like many in the community, was to check if it was her family caught up in the crash. 

“The heartbreaking part is that there will be a number of people, possibly in our district – I’m not sure where these people resided, but certainly there will be families that will be entering a really unbearable period of pain right now.” 

O’Regan had confirmation on Tuesday night that no Waipā council staff had been involved in the crash, but that paled in comparison to the big picture. 

Photo / Mike ScottPhoto / Mike Scott 

The crash site would have been horrendous for those first on the scene and emergency services had done an amazing job of responding to the “grim” circumstances, she said. 

“I just want to thank them for their service and for the people who came across this particular accident, the first people on the scene ... those who didn’t invite [themselves] to be in that situation. I want to say on behalf of the community, thank you for acting promptly and doing the right thing.” 

The road where the crash happened was a busy, main arterial route, that she thought was reasonably safe. 

O’Regan told Newstalk ZB the crash’s impact was “difficult to put into words”. 

“It’s just gut-wrenching,” O’Regan said. 

“Everybody’s connected, everybody will be impacted.” 

She said the stretch of road had a “high volume” but was not a hot spot for crashes. 

Te Awamutu-Kihikihi Ward councillor Lou Brown said the Waipā community had been rocked by two fatal crashes there in less than a week. 

Former Waipā councillor James Charles Parlane died further up the same stretch of road in a two-vehicle crash on Friday. 

Brown believed Tuesday’s crash may have happened where two lanes merged into one. 

“What we’re talking about here is there has been supposedly a head-on crash, which surprises me incredibly. It is an easy piece of road. There’s no tight corners, no blindspots as I’ve come to understand it,” he said. 

He regularly drove on the route and had been scratching his head as to how two horrific accidents could have happened there. 

“It’s quite an open piece of road, with dual carriageways going in both directions [in places]. So it’s quite unusual to think of anybody coming to grief there,” Brown said. 

Police did not consider the stretch of road where the crash happened to be a high-risk area, Waikato road policing manager inspector Jeff Penno said. 

While the police investigation into the crash was only in the early stages, the initial indication was that environmental factors did not appear to be major contributors to the crash, he said. 

“There is a large scene we need to work through and our priority at the moment is understanding what has occurred to cause this tragedy,” Penno said. 

He said police were also providing support to those who needed it. 

- RNZ 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you