24 Dec 2014

Victims of Northland crash named

4:29 pm on 24 December 2014

The names of the four people killed in a major road crash in Northland yesterday have been released.

They were Andy Li, who was 43, his daughter Catherine Li, who was 10, Xingwu Bian, who was 47, and his daughter Ximeng Bian, who was eight.

They were all from Auckland.

The eight-year-old son of Mr Li's was the only survivor from the car remained in a stable condition in Starship Hospital.

Police said the deaths were a tragic reminder of how a moment's inattention can be deadly.

The two men and two children died and boy was seriously injured when the car they were in made a U-turn into the path of a fully laden logging truck.

Police said the scene was like a "battlefield" and a stark reminder of the need for care this holiday season.

Waipu resident Sandra Wrack was waiting for her son and two grandsons to arrive home from Whangarei yesterday when the collision happened.

"I heard a huge boom out on the road, about a couple of hundred meters from my house, then it followed very soon after with another big boom and I knew straight away that it was something not nice - and then there was just this silence," she said.

Ms Wrack said while she was relieved to get a call from her son to say he was eight cars back from the smash, she knew it was someone else's tragic news.

Another Waipu resident, Lee Hanna, was on her way home from Whangarei after Christmas shopping, and had to get to her house through the back roads.

Ms Hanna said her house is on State Highway One, about 400 metres away from where the collision happened, and she could see its aftermath.

"We could see wheels in the air, in the ditch on the far side of the road, upside down and smashed ... and the logging truck was about 20 yards up also on the other side of the road, the trailer was still laden with logs, but the cab of the truck and the truck itself was on its side and skewed across the road," said Ms Hanna.

And from that moment she said the area was swarming with emergency services and helicopters.

"It's very eerie, very sad - the service people were very sober and upset, most of them of course are volunteers in our area."

Northland Road Policing Manager Inspector Murray Hodson said to have four people killed in one single crash was catastrophic.

"It is a high risk crash location. Generally the crashes that occur on this road are speed-related, but this particular crash based on the information known to us is more an error of judgement."

He said the driver of the truck was taken to Whangarei Hospital with non-life threatening injuries - but the crash would still take its toll.

"This would be a horrific incident for any driver, it's just a catastrophic event."

The head of the trucking firm involved said it was a traumatic experience for the driver.

Smith and Davies managing director Graham MacKinnon said the driver had been an employee for about 15 years and was one of their top men.

"It's obviously a very stressful event that's happened, and it's not a very good time of the year for anyone for something like that to have happened, so the company's obviously offering him any support we can, we do have an employee assistance programme, that he can use if the need arises at any time," he said.

Mr MacKinnon said he had some grazes to his shoulder and head, and a laceration to his ear.

He said the company's Whangarei branch has been with the driver and his wife yesterday, and would check on him again this morning.

Victim Support said it washelping the relatives of the four people killed in a crash.

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