29 Aug 2023

Helicopter pilot describes 'horrific' crash scene near Dunedin where two died

3:45 pm on 29 August 2023
The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust Airbus H145 twin-engine helicopter in flight.

The Otago rescue helicopter. Photo: Otago Regional Council

A helicopter pilot who transported people injured in a fatal crash near Dunedin says he has attended multiple crashes on the same stretch of road.

Emergency services were called shortly after midday on Monday to the two-vehicle crash on State Highway 1 at Titri near Waihola, 39km south of Dunedin.

Two people died at the scene and four others were taken to hospital, three in a critical condition and one in a serious condition.

Helicopters Otago chief executive Graeme Gale said they sent two helicopters to the scene.

"There was multiple fire brigade staff there, multiple St John ambulances there as well. There was a lot of people on the scene, it was a very busy scene. It was pretty horrific.

"Everyone's just reeling in the aftermath of what happened."

The stretch of road has a history of crashes including one that claimed the life of a Dunedin man on Christmas Day in 2021.

Last July, a courier van driver was forced to evade an oncoming ute that was overtaking a logging truck in the same area, swerving, rolling and ending up on the other side of the road.

"I've actually flown to a number of incidents on that stretch of road," Gale said.

"It's just one of those pieces of road that appears to have quite a high accident rate."

Te Whatu Ora said patient privacy had been requested so condition updates on those who were injured yesterday would not be available.