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One dead, four in hospital after three serious incidents over weekend

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Three people were injured, two seriously, in a two-vehicle crash on State Highway 2 at Whakamarama yesterday.

The crash was the latest in a series of serious incidents in the Western Bay over the weekend which saw one person dead and four hospitalised.

Police were called to the Whakamarama crash involving a car and a van at 3.30pm. Two people were seriously inured and one person was moderately injured. All three were taken to Tauranga Hospital.

The road was closed near the Munro Rd intersection and traffic diverted.

Debris and fluid had to be cleared from the road before it could reopen late in the evening. The Serious Crash Unit was investigating.

A local resident, who did not want to be named, told the Bay of Plenty Times she heard tyres screeching and waited for the sound of a collision.

Running outside, she saw two cars and people running towards them.

“Someone called for a fire extinguisher. We got ours … and sprayed the one car. The two people in the white van were both unconscious.

“Luckily there was a trained medic on hand and talked everyone through what to do.”

The woman said she then got some pillows and umbrellas to help keep the three people comfortable and tried to assist until Fire and Emergency and ambulances arrived about 10 minutes later.

On Friday, Matthew Paul Pettigrew, 53, died after a collision between a quad bike and freight train near the intersection of Turntable Hill and Apata Station Rds about 8.20pm.

Police said there were three people on the off-road vehicle at the time of the crash.

Another occupant suffered minor injuries and was treated at Tauranga Hospital and the third person was uninjured, the police spokeswoman said.

Multiple emergency services personnel attended the fatality, including volunteer fire crews from Omokoroa and Katikati brigades, who were the first respondents.

Police and KiwiRail were continuing to investigate the fatality.

Mr Pettigrew’s death will be referred to the Coroner, a police spokeswoman said.

A KiwiRail spokesperson said the train driver had been stood down and been offered counselling, which was the usual procedure.

On Saturday evening a 26-year-old sustained serious injuries after a crash between a car and a van on State Highway 29 outside Tauriko School.

The injured driver of one vehicle was treated at Tauranga Hospital and discharged, the hospital spokeswoman said.

The other motorist suffered no injuries.

Police, fire, St John Ambulance and a rescue helicopter were called to Omanawa Falls on Saturday to rescue a 30-year-old Auckland man who had fallen about 5pm.

The exact circumstances of the fall were still being investigated.

A Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew winched the injured man from the scene to a waiting ambulance and he was taken to Tauranga Hospital.

A Tauranga hospital spokeswoman said the patient was in a stable condition in the orthopaedic ward last night.

This was the latest incident involving visitors falling at Omanawa Falls despite metal fences and big signs warning visitors to stay away.

In February last year, a 24-year-old sustained serious back injuries after he jumped from a height of 18m and had to be airlifted to Middlemore Hospital.

Tauranga City Council parks and environment team leader Warren Aitken earlier said there had been four previous helicopter rescues since 2013.

“When people go there they’re putting their safety, and even their lives, at risk. It’s not worth it,” he said.

Aitken said Omanawa Falls had “always” been closed to the public.

A $2.7m plan to improve the access and open it up to the public had attracted a $1 million funding offer from the Government’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The project was conditional on the rest of the funding being approved in the council’s Long-Term Plan, which has yet to go out for community consultation.

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