Seven people, including a child, died in a crash between a truck and a van on State Highway 1 south of Picton this morning, police confirmed.
Police say the crash happened in Mount Pleasant around 7.30am this morning and was a head-on crash involving a van and a refrigerated truck.
One person has serious injuries and one has serious injuries. They were airlifted to Wellington Hospital.
All seven who died and the two airlifted to Wellington were traveling in the van. The truck driver was slightly injured.
Inspector Paul Borrell, Tasman District Commander, said an accident of this scale had a “huge impact” on the community.
“Police’s focus remains on ensuring victims are supported and the circumstances of the accident are fully investigated.”
Waka Kotahi said SH1 remains closed south of the Lindens Road intersection and is expected to remain closed all day.
Light vehicles can take the longer Queen Charlotte Road between Havelock and Picton, but the Transport Agency said trucks will have to park for the day until the freeway reopens.
Waka Kotahi said emergency services and contractors were on the scene.
Trish Rawlings lives a few meters from the scene of the accident and was awakened by the noise.
“I was still in bed and I heard two big bangs. When I went down there, my husband also came down with me. There were a lot of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. “
She said she went outside to check and saw two helicopters coming.
“And we could see a big truck on the side that went through the gates and another vehicle nearby. It wasn’t a pretty scene unfortunately.”
She could see the traffic jam at her door late that morning.
“There was still traffic coming from the Blenheim end of SH1 but obviously it was literally stopped at our doorstep and there were no vehicles coming from the Picton end. The road had been cordoned off on that side .”
Rick Rawlings said there have been at least two serious crashes around the corner in recent years.
He said vehicles heading south from Picton have a good run until they get to Mt Pleasant, where the road narrows.
He called for more security measures on the national road.
“Put up signs but widen the road. I think actually all along the Koromiko valley there are a few overtaking points, but I think the speed should be reduced. 100 km/h is is too fast for some of these roads.”