The truckie who witnessed a horror double-fatal accident near Kingston says the “nightmare” stretch of State Highway 6 is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous roads.
Gore truck driver Bruce Moffatt’s still struggling to come to terms with seeing the November 1 crash between a car and bus, which left two Americans dead.
Car passenger Spencer Dow, 23, of Boston, died at the scene. His family has raised more than $80,000 to fly his body home. The car driver, also 23, died a week later in hospital. He has not yet been named by police.
Moffatt was driving from Gore to Queenstown when he saw “the car going under the bus” right by his window.
“It’s been pretty horrendous,” he tells Mountain Scene.
“I just caught it coming in the mirror, usually I can see them coming miles away but it was just going too fast.
“By the time I saw the bus, it was just too late, the bang was huge, it just shook, it was so close.”
He called emergency services, but by the time he got to the car, “it was too late for the passenger”.
“I went around and ripped the window out of the car and said to the other guys to get the others out of the bus.
“I had to come to the truck and get my fire extinguisher, smoke started billowing out of the bonnet, under the front of the bus.”
Two weeks before the crash, he just missed another head-on collision on the Devil’s Staircase that left Kingston resident Harpreet Singh dead.
He says the dangerous driving on that stretch of road is “constant”.
“It almost spooks you, because you’re constantly getting passed on double-yellow lines, and you’re constantly getting people pull out head-on.
“On the way home, I get them going the same way as me, and it’s just an absolute nightmare.”
He drove the route for the first time since the crash last Wednesday, and it wasn’t easy.
“Getting over the trauma, it’s really, really hard.
“I went up the same road, and virtually at the same time another white bus came up that same spot and I just couldn’t control it, I had to stop for about 30 minutes.”
He says the crash has changed his outlook on life.
“You just take more care, it makes my job a hell of a lot less enjoyable at the moment, but it’ll hopefully come right.”