Narrow escape for driver


A driver has narrowly missed becoming the second Wakatipu fatality during Monday’s gale force winds which felled this Gibbston Highway willow.

The giant tree split in half, crashing onto the highway at about 11.30am.

Traffic on Gibbston Highway was held up for about 20 minutes while contractors cleared the fallen willow from the road – not far from the Kawarau Bridge, says Bayleys sales consultant Albert Voschezang. He arrived moments after it hit the ground – and snapped the photograph above.

“It just missed a car, apparently.”

An hour later a 20m poplar tree fell onto Lower Shotover Road, crushing a ute and killing driver Russell Liggett, 57, just metres from his home.

Queenstown Lakes District Council is surveying the Lower Shotover Rd area where the poplar killed Liggett to
determine if the tree was on council reserve land.

QLDC’s investigating what it can do to prevent another “freak accident” occurring, boss Duncan Field says.

“We need to have the discussion now about can we afford to leave these trees as they are without any knowledge of their state or do we have to do a little bit more about succession planning?”