Three dead after SH8 crash at Pukaki

by Kim Bowden - Mar 30, 2024

Three people are dead and five others injured after a multi-vehicle crash on State Highway 8 near Pukaki this afternoon - the first of two serious incidents on the stretch of road today.

Authorities are warning the highway between the Mount Cook-Aoraki turnoff and Tekapo will likely remain closed into tonight with the Serious Crash Unit at the scene.

In a statement this evening, police say one of the deceased was travelling on a motorbike, while the two others who lost their lives were both travelling in the same car.

Of those injured, three have serious injuries and two, moderate.

The crash involved two vehicles and the motorbike, and happened between Hayman Road and Tekapo Canal Road at approximately 1.30pm.

"A large number of emergency service staff, including three rescue helicopters responded," Inspector Craig McKay says in the statement.

"Despite the best efforts of those first at the scene, three people were unable to be saved.

"Several of the injured were trapped in the wreckage and needed to be cut out. Three of the injured have been flown to hospital."

He says a complex and lengthy investigation lies ahead for police.

"We are in the early stages of the investigation to determine what caused this tragic event. The Serious Crash Unit is at the scene and their work will continue into the evening."

The New Zealand Transport Agency says closure points are at the intersection of State Highways 8 and 80 (the road to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village) and Braemar Road, east of the Lake Tekapo township.

Its main alternative for holiday traffic is the coastal route via State Highways 8, then 1, 82, and 83, that will then rejoin State Highway 8, but warns motorists this route requires 150 minutes extra travel time.

Inspector Craig McKay says members of the public first on the scene of the crash and provided first aid.

"Crashes of this nature are incredibly confronting, and we are arranging support for those members of the public who were first at the scene and tried their best to save lives. We can’t thank them enough," Inspector Craig McKay says.

"Any fatal crash, but particularly one where multiple people have lost their lives, is confronting even for veteran emergency service personnel. We will also be making sure our staff at the scene have the support they need following this horrific event."

The three-fatality crash was the first of two serious crashes in the area today - the second came only an hour-and-a-half later, a short distance away at the intersection of State Highway 8 and Tekapo-Twizel Road.

There, one person received serious injuries and nine others, minor-to-moderate.

Enquiries into the cause of the second crash are ongoing.

"We want to ask every motorist on the roads this weekend to take extra care. Please take your time, have plenty of breaks and drive to the conditions. Crashes like this show how easy it is for things to go horribly wrong," Inspector Craig McKay says.

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