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Bleak long weekend on the roads

Published: 6:33AM Sunday June 03, 2012 Source: ONE News

Police are blaming drink driving for six of the seven fatalities so far in what is turning out to be a deadly Queens Birthday weekend.

Four deaths in a single vehicle crash in Hawke's Bay have contributed to the horror holiday road toll, which does not end until 6am Tuesday.

In Putorino, where the four were killed, police are urging the community to take a close look at its drink-drive culture.

The carnage has rocked the tiny settlement and a sombre procession of people have been paying tribute to four of their own, killed when the four-wheel-drive they were in hit a tree.

Senior Sergeant Sarah Stewart said the occupants of the Mitsubishi Pajero had been drinking at a local hotel last night and police are still trying to find out what time the crash occurred.

All four men in the vehicle, aged 47, 64, 42 and 48, were dead when police and ambulance staff arrived. They all lived in the area and were working as farm hands.

Stewart said initial investigations indicated the vehicle lost control on a slight crest on the unsealed road, slid across the road, flipped and crashed through a fence.

Beer bottles beside the wreck speak volumes.

"Alcohol would appear to be a factor," acting Senior Sergeant Clint Adamson said. "In addition to that three of the occupants were found outside the vehicle which would suggest they weren't wearing seatbelts."

Emergency services were alerted by a Putorino farmer who told ONE News she saw something in the paddock, got out of her car to see what had happened and saw two bodies.

She said she knew they were dead.

The serious crash unit is taking what is left of the vehicle for further examination.

"The community needs to come on board otherwise they are going to continue to lose their loved ones in accidents of this manner," Adamson said.

Holiday carnage

The Queen's Birthday carnage began just before 6pm on Saturday when a female pedestrian was killed at Otane in Hawke's Bay.

Three and a half hours later a man in his 20s died after the car he was in rolled and struck a power pole in Stratford, Taranaki. Three other people were injured, with one women in the high dependency unit at Taranaki Base Hospital. One person was trapped inside the car while another was trapped under the vehicle.

And just after 2 this morning another pedestrian was hit by a car near Lincoln in Canterbury.

Police said alcohol was a factor in three of the four fatal accidents.

"When you're travelling at a speed of 100 kilometres an hour, especially when you mix that with alcohol, and something goes wrong your chances of dying are very high," Superintendent Rob Morgan, acting National Road Policing manager said.