‘Truck just kept coming’

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STOP: A truck damaged at least four parked vehicles when it crashed into a Whakatane car sales yard yesterday after the driver appeared to suffer a medical event. Photo Louis Klaassen D5030-31

WHAKATANE Autozone owner Fiona Marshall stood and watched a 1988 Mack truck towing a trailer drive straight into parked vehicles at her car sales yard at lunchtime yesterday.

“I saw it come up over the roundabout then it veered to the left and started coming this way. It looked like it wasn’t stopping.

“I ran to get out of the way because I thought it was going to keep going into the building.”

Mrs Marshall said a St John Ambulance volunteer having a coffee at a business next door when the 12.30pm incident occurred helped with the situation before emergency staff arrived.

She said when she approached the truck’s cab, the driver was slumped to the left.

Mrs Marshall said at least four cars were damaged. The business’s insurance company had been called when the incident occurred so it could photograph the scene.

“There was a lot of black smoke and it was very loud. Even if you didn’t see it coming you would have heard it.”

Mrs Marshall said she was thankful the truck stopped where it did as there were customers at the yard looking at vehicles at the time.

Witness Angelina McConnachie was in the vehicle behind the truck when the crash occurred.

She said it was travelling in the inside lane as it passed The Hub and as it approached the roundabout it drove over a small island in the middle of the road.

“Then it went right over the roundabout and into the car yard. It cut off a ute at the roundabout and wiped out two [parked] cars.”

She and her parents pulled over and she called emergency services.

Miss McConnachie sensed something was wrong with the truck minutes earlier when she and her parents were at the roundabout on the intersection of Landing and Eivers roads.

She said the truck exited Eivers Road on to the roundabout to turn right on to Landing Road.

“It just stopped halfway for about three minutes then kept going.”

Miss McConnachie said she suspected the driver suffered a medical event but was able to gather himself as it seemed there was no further trouble before the crash.

St John territory manager Richard Waterson said the 72-year-old driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to Whakatane Hospital for further assessment.

haylee.king@whakatanebeacon.co.nz

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