Ute “Drove Into Goods Train” (Update)


Police have revealed that the ute which was involved in a fatal accident with a train in Flint Rd, Stratford this morning drove into the path of the northbound goods train.

Police say the ute turned into Flint Road from the northbound lane on Broadway (State Highway 3) and drove into the path of the oncoming train.

The vehicle was overturned and came to rest in a drain on the west side of the track, approximately 15-20 metres from the point of impact. All three occupants were initially trapped inside the ute.

Members of the public, who were first on the scene, were able to free a young girl from the vehicle. Fire staff were eventually able to free the remaining two occupants.

48-year-old Antoinette Hesa of Kaponga died at the scene. The remaining two occupants were transported to Taranaki Base Hospital with serious injuries. They are a 63-year-old man from Kaponga, believed to be the dead woman’s brother, and the 8-year-old girl, believed to be the dead woman’s daughter.

Police say because of the impact of the crash, they are not sure exactly who was driving the ute.

The driver of the train was shaken but not injured.

The crossing is on the “priority list” which means bells and alarms are promised “sometime this year.”

File photo




  1. George D says:

    Why on earth are there not level crossings everywhere? Billions to build new motorways to save lives, but never any money to put in a few lights and a barrier arm.

  2. Matt says:

    umm, there are “level crossings everywhere”. This crash happened on one (I assume). Not being controlled doesn’t stop it being a level crossing. You’re also assuming it wasn’t controlled. People have been killed at crossings with barrier arms down and lights in operation.

    There’s no justification for controlling every level crossing. Many of them are used only by farmers twice a day, some of them might see a car a day. For the 100s-of-000s cost per crossing to make them fully controlled, that’s a criminal waste of money. I think Puford’s a waste, but at least it’ll be used and will make a difference for a lot of people.

    Drivers need to pay attention. It’s very simple. There’s a sign saying “Level Crossing”, which should be as much warning as anyone needs to say “Big, heavy, unstoppable vehicles that will probably kill you may approach at any time”

  3. Matt L says:

    Matt - This one was an uncontrolled crossing and one that has had crashes on it in the past including a previous death.

    From the Stuff article http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4532141/Train-and-car-collide-in-Stratford
    The Flint Rd crossing, which has no barriers to stop cars, is a notorious one with a child dying in a 1992 collision.

    In 2009, after the latest crash, Ontrack said the crossing was on a priority list to get flashing lights and bells in the next five years.

  4. Matt says:

    Ta, Matt. Hopefully that wait list will be shortened dramatically in this case.
    Still doesn’t change the overall calculus for controlling every crossing, though, and won’t ensure that there are no further fatalities on the crossing once it is controlled.

  5. George D says:

    Sorry, meant controlled level crossing. That there are no barrier arms at a multiple fatality crossing is just murderous. Preventing dozens of needless fatalities simply doesn’t seem to be a priority.

  6. Matt says:

    OnTrack’s problem is that the budget has to deal with a lot of such crossings, some of which have had more-recent fatalities.
    If this crossing has bells, adding arms is not a huge amount of work. The trigger mechanisms are there, it’s just a matter of installing and connecting the arms. I’d expect this to go from “within five years” to “by the end of the year”, given that Joyce is a boy from the ‘naki and it’s an easy way to look good in the role as shareholding Minister.

    That said, wasn’t the Stratford line’s future in doubt?

    PS: It’s only just become a “multiple fatality crossing”. It’s been 18 years since the last fatal crash.

  7. Matt L says:

    Interesting to see that in the BOP times had an excellent editorial this morning on the need for care at level crossings and have included some statistics to show that 50% of collisions involve crossings with bells or arms installed and that 18% of times when there is a near collision people have driven around barriers.

  8. Matt says:

    This article says A recent survey counted 79 near misses on level crossings since August, 80 per cent of them at crossings with lights, bells or barrier arms.

    A fifth happened after drivers deliberately drove around a lowered barrier, [KR spokeswoman] Ms Bell said.

    So clearly there’s more to it than just putting in warning devices, though from other things in the article that particular crossing is laid out poorly.


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