In pain and bleeding, Queenstowner Dan Turner dragged himself out of his crashed ute and carried the tourist who had just hit him head-on away from her burning car.
The 32-year-old, who was seriously injured in yesterday’s early-morning crash, says he was afraid the other car would explode and injure both of them more.
Turner was driving his work ute to the gym, as he did most mornings, along Malaghans Rd just after 6am, when he and a rental car driven by a German tourist collided at speed near the Coronet Peak skifield access road.
Speaking from Lakes District Hospital, he told the Otago Daily Times the initial impact caused him to “black out” for a minute or two.
“When I snapped out of it and came around again, my reaction was just adrenaline.”
The woman’s car had burst into flames.
“I’d gone over to the car to try and see if the other person was all right because of the flames. And then the whole car just went up.”
Turner, a foreman for Trinity Development Alliance, says the woman was out of her burning car but was stumbling back towards it.
He calmed her down and went to her aid.
“I carried her away from the car just in case something would explode.
“The last thing I was thinking about was myself, until the ambulance pulled up. Then I sat down and thought `I am pretty smashed’.”
Sounding shaken from the ordeal, he described how he hit emergency dial on his phone.
However, due to his own injuries, he was unable to speak.
Luckily, someone else arrived at the scene to help.
Turner says he had no time to avoid the oncoming vehicle.
He saw two headlights “a second” before impact.
“It was pretty much a blind corner. There was no reaction time. It just happened and I didn’t see her coming. I saw the lights and – done.”
When Turner initially spotted the flames, he thought they might be coming from his vehicle.
He had a broken nose, a cut knee and a swollen face and there was “blood everywhere”, he
Turner later told police it was like he had played six rugby games against Jonah Lomu.
Despite his injuries, Turner says he was simply relieved he and the other driver were able to walk away.
Crews from the Arrowtown and Queenstown fire brigades attended the blaze, which was quickly extinguished.
Both drivers were taken to Lakes District Hospital for further treatment.
The German woman was treated for a fractured finger and moderate injuries, Sergeant Chris Brooks, of Queenstown, says.
He confirms the woman was driving on “the wrong side of the double yellow lines and the cars met on the bend”.
At the scene, he told the Otago Daily Times the speed at which the collision occurred appeared to have caused the rental vehicle to burst into flames.
He stresses how lucky the pair were and says police could have been dealing with a very different situation.
He also says Turner could have died if he hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt.
Investigations into the crash are ongoing and charges are being considered, he says.
The crash, between the Skippers Road/Littles Rd intersection and North Ridge Rd, closed Malaghans Rd for a time.
Otago Daily Times