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A train driver desperately sounded his horn as he watched a car drive closer and closer to the tracks before colliding with his train on the outskirts of Morrinsville last night.
Emergency services were called to the crash at the intersection of Piako Rd and State Highway 26 shortly before 7pm.
The 76-year-old driver of the car was trapped inside and the Morrinsville Volunteer Fire Service spent about 15 minutes trying to free him from the smoking vehicle.
Constable Erik Harrewijn said the train driver saw the car approach from about 30 metres away – on SH26 – and sounded the horn repeatedly as the car moved forward.
However, the car didn't stop and the train struck the driver's side of the vehicle, spinning it into a paddock.
Mr Harrewijn said the train driver was traumatised, but he was otherwise unhurt.
Police were last night speaking to several witnesses who had followed the driver of the car from Hamilton.
Deputy fire chief Steve Turfrey said the man – who was understood to be from Paeroa – was in a serious condition. Rescue crew used hydraulic equipment to remove him from the wrecked Mazda Lantis.
The car was seriously damaged and the driver's side of the car and dashboard had to be removed before the crew could move the injured man who was taken to Waikato Hospital for treatment.
Mr Turfrey said it had been several years since he had attended a crash between a car and train at that intersection, but they used to occur more frequently, he said.
KiwiRail last night said the driver of the train would be stood down for several days and offered counselling.
The spokeswoman said the 700 metre-long freight train had been travelling from the Port of Tauranga to Auckland – via Hamilton – when the crash happened at a level crossing. She said it was a "protected crossing" with lights and bells, which were in good working order.
Meanwhile, the sole survivor of a fatal crash that claimed the lives of three of his school mates remains fighting for his life in Waikato Hospital.
Jaryd Doughty, 19, lies critically injured in the intensive care unit, while the families of three of his school mates prepare funerals after a fatal crash on the outskirts of Hamilton on Friday.
Liam Jackson, 18, Alan Jones, 18, and Ashley Foley, 19, died when their Nissan Sentra left Gordon Rd and hit a tree while the group were travelling home to South Auckland about 5am on Friday.
Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said the youths had spent the night in Hamilton and were trying to get back to Auckland for work when the crash happened.
Mr Tooman said there was a strong smell of alcohol and there were several liquor containers in the car.
However, the cause of the accident has not yet been determined, nor has the driver of the car been named.
The Waikato Times understands that the teenagers met at Rosehill High School in Papakura.
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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