18 Jul 2010

Van crash scene 'like war zone'

6:01 am on 18 July 2010

Police have described the scene of a van crash south of Rotorua that injured 12 teenagers as being "almost a war zone".

Police say the group of friends was travelling back from a party in Taupo when the crash occurred, at about 2.45am on Saturday.

The van failed to take a left-hand bend, crossed the centre line and hit a bank on State Highway 5 just south of Rotorua, police say, and it appeared the occupants were thrown from the vehicle.

Senior Sergeant Dennis Murphy says when officers arrived they found "what appeared to be almost a war zone."

"There were bodies of injured lying across the road, blocking the road ... and in ditches on either side of the road."

A spokesperson for Rotorua Hospital says three 17-year-olds, one with head and chest injuries, were being transferred to Waikato hospital. A 16-year-old girl was undergoing surgery on Saturday afternoon.

Six others were admitted to hospital wards on Saturday, one was under observation in the Emergency Department and another was been treated and discharged.

Truck drivers praised

The police have praised the actions of two truck drivers who were the first on the scene.

Senior Sergeant Brent Crowe said the truckies secured the scene to prevent any further mishaps and helped some of the victims.

If they had not as quickly as they did, he said, some of the victims could have been more seriously injured by other vehicles.