13 Jan 2016

Seven hours to report fatal river plunge

7:14 pm on 13 January 2016

It took more than seven hours for a fatal plunge into a Southland river to be reported earlier this week, despite a passenger escaping the water.

Police today confirmed a second man was in the car when it went off Holz Road into the Mataura River at 5.30am on Monday morning, leaving one man dead.

A 40-year-old passenger escaped the sinking vehicle, but police were not alerted to the crash until 1pm, and could not confirm that a man had died until Tuesday.

Te Iwiroa Manakura Te Hapuka Smith, 44, died in the crash. His body was recovered yesterday after the police dive squad were called in.

The passenger did not require any medical attention.

Police said today they could not comment on the time it took for the accident to be reported to them.