A witness to an accident watched as cars rolled and spun out of control on a notorious stretch of road ahead of him, requiring four people to be taken to hospital.
A yellow vehicle, its make and model unrecognisable after the crash yesterday afternoon, was left mangled in a ditch at the side of the road.
A black Toyota Hilux had rolled but landed upright nearby. A third vehicle, a blue car not as badly damaged, came to rest 40m down the road.
Drew Chatterton said he saw the crash when travelling behind the yellow vehicle involved.
"The yellow car that is in the ditch there almost looked like it was trying to turn. The blue car here was spinning - lost control - and the black ute was rolling, top-right side and barrel rolling. It rolled two or three times."
A 51-year-old woman was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital by the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter with serious head and pelvic injuries. Three others were taken to hospital by ambulance.
The stretch of road where it occurred - the intersection of SH2 and Drumpeel Rd, near Otane - has a history of accidents. It was there where 34-year-old Stacy Edward Graham died in August last year.
Police, fire appliances, ambulances and the Lowe Corp Rescue Helicopter were at the scene yesterday, and traffic was diverted after the accident which occurred about 1pm.
Details of some victims' injuries are not known, but it is believed an elderly woman from the blue car was taken to hospital with whiplash. One of the two occupants of the black ute which rolled was said to be a "bit shaken up".
The occupants of the blue and black vehicles were not as seriously injured as the 51-year-old woman in the yellow car.
"The lady in the yellow car was complaining of chest pains and she had a big cut above her eyes," Mr Chatterton said. "Me and a couple of other fellas ran in and kept her still. She was conscious, she was just really slow answering."
Police serious crash investigator Bryan Farquharson said the blue and black vehicles had been travelling south when they crashed into the northbound yellow car. He says it appeared as if the yellow car had crossed the centre line.
"Going from the evidence on scene, the blue car has been clipped by the yellow car, which has spun it out of control. T
he ute following along behind has then collided [in] what I would call an off-centre head-on crash with the yellow car."
A police statement said neither speed nor alcohol were believed to be factors in the crash.
All those taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital were in a stable condition, a spokesperson said.