Police name truck crash victim

Police have named the man who died when his truck and trailer unit crashed and rolled down a bank off State Highway 29 in the Kaimai Ranges last night.

Te Awamutu resident Athol Ian Bree, 61, died at the scene after his truck plunged down a bank about one kilometre from the Kaimai summit.  

Te Awamutu man Athol Bree died when his truck crashed off SH29 in the Kaimai Ranges.

Acting sub-area manager for Matamata-Piako Sergeant Neil Faulkner says members of the Waikato Serious Crash Unit are currently at the scene of last night's crash , which occurred on a sharp bend on the Matamata side of the Kaimais.

"Traffic on this busy stretch of road has been reduced from three lanes down to one causing some delay.

“A heavy recovery vehicle is currently in place and work is continuing on trying to recover the tractor and trailer unit while crash investigators continue to map out the scene," says Neil.

The 61-year-old was driving the fully laden truck carrying palm kernels when it lost control and crashed through a barrier at about 6.20pm.

Emergency services from Matamata and Tauranga attended the scene where Tauranga Senior Station Officer Mark Keller says fire fighters struggled down a 10metre bank to determine the man was alone in the vehicle.

“The conditions were pretty bad - it was quite misty and raining.”

“We used rescue equipment to cut the roof off to determine there was nobody else in the truck,” says Mark.

Salvage operations are underway to remove the truck from the bank with traffic reduced to a single lane.

NZ Transport Agency State Highway manager Brett Gliddon says although there was some fog this morning, traffic is flowing reasonably well given the one-lane situation. 

“Latest reports at midday indicate that traffic is not particularly heavy and that motorists are being patient and cautious around this section of SH29. 

Brett says contractors are making steady progress and things are still on track for the work to be completed by 3.00 pm this afternoon. 

“In the meantime, we appreciate people's care and understanding around the situation and we will let people know as soon as the road reopens.”


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