5 Feb 2014

Crash van may have clipped bridge

10:17 pm on 5 February 2014

Police investigating a fatal crash involving a family group of 10 people in Southland say it appears their van clipped a one-lane bridge before plunging into the Mataura River.

Senior Sergeant Brian Benn says the tourists had left Queenstown for MIlford Sound on Tuesday and took a detour on a gravel road to take photographs of the Mataura. However, 4km along the road their vehicle hit the bridge and went into the river.

The van was carrying 10 people.

The van was carrying 10 people. Photo: INVERCARGILL POLICE / Forensic Imaging Section

The 59-year-old driver, a Canadian national, died at the scene near Lumsden, while the nine other passengers suffered various injuries on Tuesday afternoon.

His 52-year-old wife suffered neck injuries but was expected to be released from Southland Hospital on Wednesday.

The couple's two children, aged 12 and 14, were discharged from Southland Hospital on Tuesday evening.

Two other women, aged 68 and 55, were expected to be discharged from Dunedin Public Hospital on Wednesday.

The group - whose members were aged from 12 to 68 years - were travelling on Canadian and Chinese passports.

A rural fire chief praised several Australian anglers who jumped into the river to get the passengers to safety.

A serious crash investigator completed his work at the scene on Tuesday. Victim Support, and the Canadian and Chinese embassies are assisting police.