A serious car crash on Tuesday 17 October was a terrifying ordeal for those who survived it. It also showed the kindness and selflessness of members in the Franklin community who arrived at the scene before emergency services.
Around 8am on Tuesday morning, a taxi van carrying five people went off the road, crashing through a fence and rolling into a paddock, on Waiuku Road, near Puni.
Caroline Oliver had picked up her daughter from Pukekohe and was driving home to Waiuku when she saw the van on its side in the paddock.
“I arrived just after it happened, but didn’t see it take place,” she said. “I looked over and thought ‘oh my gosh there’s a van there!’
“I’m not usually the kind of person who would stop, because I’m not a doctor or a nurse, so I didn’t know how useful I’d be,” she said. “But there was no one else there, so I pulled over, told my daughter to stay in the car and got out to help.”
Police reported that those involved were a six year old boy, two 18 year old females, a 21 year old male and 69 year old male.
Caroline said she could see hands banging against the windscreen and windows from inside the taxi van.
“I went around the back of the van to help them. There was nobody else with them at that point.”
At the scene, Caroline helped one of the girls out, before climbing back in the van to get the others.
“I could hear screaming, that was the young boy, and then another person was silent so I went for her because if you’re screaming you’re generally not too bad,” she said.
Emergency services arrived on the scene, with St John dispatching four vehicles, and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter also attending to transport one of the women.
“They asked me to go with her in the helicopter to the hospital,” Caroline said, “I felt so bad because I couldn’t as I had my own daughter to look after.”
She said the young woman was very brave. “She was more worried about everyone else in the van than herself.”
Both Caroline and her daughter stayed and kept the others company while emergency services attended to the scene.
All of the patients were taken to Middlemore Hospital.
“Looking back, I’m still a bit shaky,” Caroline said about the whole experience. She said it was great that the local community members were able to come together and help out those in need.
“Like I said, I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I am a Mum,” Caroline said.
At the time of print, a spokesperson for Middlemore Hospital said that one person remains in a serious but stable condition in the ICU, while another is stable in a ward. The other patients have been discharged.
The Serious Crash Unit and Commercial Vehicle Safety Team attended the scene and are continuing their investigations.
Police say they are very grateful to the members of the public who were first on the scene and managed to pull the patients from the wreckage.
Initial reports from St John said four were in a serious condition and one moderate, this was later downgraded to two serious and three moderately injured.