6 Oct 2017

Taxi hit by overbridge rock: 'I was very close to death'

4:42 pm on 6 October 2017

An Auckland taxi driver says he is lucky to be alive after a 2kg rock was launched from a motorway overbridge and crashed through his windscreen.

Balkar Singh holds the rock that was thrown from a motorway overbridge into his car.

Balkar Singh holds the rock that was thrown from a motorway overbridge into his car. Photo: Supplied.

Balkar Singh said he was driving a customer to the airport about 4.15pm yesterday when he noticed three young people, aged between about 10 and 15, gathered on the Bader Drive overbridge in Mangere.

He thought he was safe when he went under the overbridge, but when he came out the otherside a rock came through his windscreen, hitting him on the shoulder.

Mr Singh was able to drive 200m down the road before he could pull over and check if his customer, a senior Kiwirail employee who had been sitting in the front passenger seat, was OK.

"There was glass everywhere, you know, so that's a moment I couldn't forget.

"I was very close to death, if it [was] just a couple of inches to the left it would have been on my forehead."

Another taxi driver, Gurbinder Singh Dhillon, said passed under the bridge just minutes before Mr Singh and was also hit by what he says was a bottle or rock that left a dent in his windscreen.

Damage to Balkar SIngh's taxi.

Damage to Balkar SIngh's taxi. Photo: Supplied

Police sent several units to the area but could not find those responsible.

The drivers' colleague, Gagan Singh, said his car was also hit just a few months ago. He said he was in the same place, and it was also during school holidays.

Mr Singh's car was left with damage to his roof, which he said was expensive and time consuming to fix.

Police said there had been several similar instances recently in other parts of Auckland recently, and they were taking them very seriously.

Auckland was not the only place affected, either.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said there had been instances along the Kāpiti Expressway north of Wellington, and near Mangatawhiri in Waikato.

Mr Shirley said it was downright stupid behaviour from those reponsible.

"Drivers are reporting that it's happening at night, often several nights in succession, so it is a real worry and drivers are becoming increasingly nervous on some of these routes."

In 2005 in which a driver was killed when they were hit by a piece of concrete thrown from an overbridge above a South Auckland motorway.

Mr Shirley said overbridges overseas often had protective cages around them, but did not want it to come to that in New Zealand.

"The cost of that would be phenomenal and we'd all have to pay for it, often they look ugly and obtrusive.

"That might be the ultimate measure but surely we can be a more responsible society than that."

But Balkar Singh said action needed to be taken and in the meantime, drivers needed to be careful around overbridges.

"I think it's not safe to be driving around that area.

"Anything, anyone you saw on the top of the bridge - that means something is going to happen."

A police spokesperson said officers had boosted their patrols around Auckland overbridges and they were urging anyone with information about the incidents to contact them immediately.

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