The holiday weekend has turned to tragedy for loved ones of three people who have died on New Zealand roads so far this Easter.
No one died on our roads last Easter, when the country was in level 4 lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.
But with freedom comes a return to the risk of death and injury behind the wheel, as Kiwis make their way around the country for the four-day holiday weekend.
The first to die was a person killed in a crash involving a truck and a car just before 8pm on Thursday on State Highway 27 at Kaihere, in Hauraki.
Three others received moderate injuries, police said.
Eighty minutes later a person died in another crash on SH2 at Mangatāwhiri, north of Hamilton.
And today, a person died at the scene of two-vehicle crash near Whakamaru, about 50km north of Taupō, police said.
After the midday crash, which occurred at the intersection of SH30 and SH32, one of the vehicles caught fire.
The person who died was the driver of one of the vehicles.
No one else was hurt.
An 80-year-old woman also died on Thursday after she was hit by a car in the North Shore suburb of Forrest Hill, succumbing to her injuries hours after the 8.20am incident.
That meant her death was not included in the Easter road toll as the official holiday period began at 4pm on Thursday and ends at 6am on Tuesday.
Other road users have escaped holiday weekend crashes with their lives, but now beginrecovery from their injuries.
Among them are three ambulance officers and a fourth person after a crash between an ambulance and ute towing a boat on Auckland’s North Shore today.
The ambulance was on its way to a patient and under lights and sirens at the time of the crash, St John Territory Manager Andrew Everiss said.
It was left wedged in the air by the ute, which struck the driver’s side of the emergency vehicle.
Three ambulance officers were taken to North Shore Hospital with moderate and minor injuries, and the person in the ute had minor injuries, after all four were assessed by additional ambulance crews, Everiss said.
A second ambulance was also dispatched to the initial patient after the incident, which occurred on Constellation Drive in Rosedale at 12.15pm.
Support was being provided to those involved, and the organisation was working with police and had also launched its own investigation into the incident.
Five people were also hurt, one critically, after a crash involving two vehicles in the Athenree Gorge, north of Tauranga, just before 11am today.
The critically injured person was taken to Thames Hospital by helicopter. The other four only suffered minor injuries.
Hours into the long weekend, police were already warning motorists heading away on holiday to “take it easy”.
“We urge motorists to be patient, and to not take any unnecessary risks.”
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