Horror crash: Eight-year-old girl dies

The scene of the crash on SH3 that claimed seven lives. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

An eight-year-old girl has become the seventh person to die after a head-on crash on SH3 in Taranaki yesterday.

The crash happened near the Waverley racing club about 11.11am yesterday.

Six people died at the scene - four elderly people in a car heading north, and a male driver and baby in a vehicle heading south.

A woman who was the front-seat passenger in the southbound car has been flown to Wellington Hospital with critical injuries, while an eight-year-old girl who was also in that car passed away in Waikato Hospital early this morning.

Fire and Emergency had three vehicles on the scene yesterday and helped release passengers trapped in the crash.

The Serious Crash Unit was investigating.

Waverly fire and emergency chief Alan Hickford says the identities of the deceased would only be released once next of kin were notified.

Alan says it was clear the vehicles had impacted head on.

He says the weather was clear and the road was dry at the time of the crash, which happened on a slight bend in the road.

"This is a devastating crash and the tragedy will affect a large number of people in our community.

"Our sympathies and condolences go out to the family, friends and loved ones of those involved."

Hawera truck driver Robert Clegg says he drove on the stretch of road every day and it was not particularly dangerous.

Robert says he drove through the corner where the accident occurred about 9am yesterday morning, and it was not slippery or affected by ice.

Carol Ball, a witness to the crash, says she and her partner heard a loud "bang".

"It was earlier this morning that we just heard a 'bang' and I looked over and saw a lot of dust. I thought it was a truck that dropped a bag of cement off, it was just like a whole lot of dust going up and then my partner said there's been an accident.

"There were about three fire brigades that came and then an ambulance and then three helicopters came as well.

"We didn't like to go down there because there was a lot of people there."

Another witness, Brian Martin, says it was a dangerous corner to drive.

"That is a dangerous corner that corner there, a lot of people don't really slow down and if you're coming from the other way you can get across the road and if a vehicle was passing the other vehicle on the left hand side and the other one was coming around the corner, they could quite easily have a head-on accident there."

Waverley Racing Club secretary Justine Alexander says she did not know if the people hurt and killed in the crash were locals, or driving through.

-RNZ

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