It was a “miracle” the driver of a Nissan 4WD walked away after colliding with a train at the Burgess Rd crossing yesterday morning.
At about 8.30am, the north-bound 160tonne train came up to the level crossing south of Herbert at the same time as a Nissan 4WD carrying a trailer.
Oamaru police Constable Stuart Dowling said it appeared to be a case of alleged inattention by the driver of the 4WD.
“He failed to see the train until the last minute,” Mr Dowling said.
He braked immediately, but it was too late.
Highway Patrol sergeant Peter Muldrew, at the scene yesterday morning, said the resulting mess was “fairly substantial”.
The driver of the Nissan 4WD was a 52-year-old Herbert man who “miraculously” walked away from the collision, Mr Muldrew said.
He was taken to the Oamaru Hospital by St John Ambulance, with some lacerations and possible internal injuries.
He was discharged after being treated for minor cuts to his head.
Mr Muldrew said when the vehicles collided, the train shoved the 4WD off the tracks and into the fence of a paddock on the eastern side of the tracks.
The 52-year-old’s lucky escape could be linked to the angle of the tracks, he said.
“What trains will do is if you hit square on with the train it’ll push you straight down the tracks,” Mr Muldrew said.
“If this was a square on crossing I’d be talking to the coroner.”
A KiwiRail spokesman said there was “quite a bit of damage” to the front of the train, but the driver of the train escaped uninjured.
Yesterday, Mr Dowling said police were still investigating and no decision on possible charges had been made.
By Rebecca Ryan