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Baby among seven dead in New Zealand’s deadliest crash in two decades

One of seven people killed in one of the deadliest crashes in 20 years in New Zealand’s South Island is a baby after a van collided with a truck.

A light van carrying nine people crossed the centerline before hitting a refrigerated truck head-on at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Picton, on the north coast.

The Tasman District Commander, Inspector Paul Borrell, described the horrific scene as “absolute carnage.”

“It’s just absolutely tragic how seven lives are lost in the blink of an eye,” he said.

Seven people - all of whom traveled in the van - died, while the truck driver escaped with minor injuries

Seven people – all of whom traveled in the van – died, while the truck driver escaped with minor injuries

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Inspector Paul Borrell, Tasman District Commander, described the horrific scene as ‘absolute carnage’ (stock image)

†[It’s] a memory for each of us, in the twinkling of an eye seven lives are gone.’

The truck driver suffered minor injuries, while two of the surviving passengers in the van suffered critical and serious injuries and were taken to hospital by helicopter.

Inspector Simon Feltham, commander of the Marlborough area, said first responders would be helped to cope with the trauma.

“One of our employees, it was their third day working at the police academy,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing to experience.”

Inspector Borrell offered his condolences to the family who had lost loved ones.

“Every death on our roads is a tragedy, let alone multiple fatalities in one accident,” he said.

“An accident of this magnitude has a huge impact on the community where it happens, that of the family and community of the deceased, and on the emergency services that are present.”

The collision occurred on State Highway 1 (pictured) between Blenheim and Picton at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday

The collision occurred on State Highway 1 (pictured) between Blenheim and Picton at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday

Picton is located on the north coast of the South Island, in the Marlborough region

Picton is located on the north coast of the South Island, in the Marlborough region

Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Wayne Wytenburg said he was “lost.”

“Today we experienced a very horrific car accident along with other emergency services,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I have no words to describe what our emergency services have been dealing with. Our thoughts go out to the families.’

Koromiko resident Trish Rawlings described loud bangs on the road outside her property at the time of the accident.

“Then I heard a siren, so I went to the gate to look,” she said stuff

‘There were already emergency vehicles, helicopters, that arrived quickly. It must have been within 10 minutes of the crash.’

Police said early indications indicate the van crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic

Police said early indications indicate the van crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic

Ms Rawlings said the collision happened on a ‘corner’.

After being confronted by the scene, she decided to take a walk to clear her head.

Reality hits and you think, ‘Oh my God, seven people died not far from where we live,’ she told the New Zealand Herald.

“It’s really awful.”

Rick Rawlings said there had been two other serious accidents at that location in recent years because the corner has a deceptive bend in the road.

‘It’s a very narrow section of State Highway 1; It starts in Picton, and by the time it gets here, the vehicles have [sped] pretty good come out of Picton, and then they have to take a corner that doesn’t show up so well – I know – I live right on it,” he told me RNZ

‘Put up some signs, but widen the road. I actually think – right through the Koromiko Valley there are a few overtaking spots – but I think the speed should be reduced. 100 km/h is too fast for some of these roads.’

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