Melbourne family injured in NZ van crash


Eight Indian-origin people were injured, one of them seriously, when the van they were travelling in plunged off a cliff in New Zealand after the driver reportedly fell asleep on the wheel.

The eight were on their way to Hawke’s Bay from Auckland airport in the North Island of New Zealand when the horrific accident took place Thursday, the New Zealand Herald reported Friday.

The van appeared to have gone out of control, rounding a bend and hiting a kerb, before overturning and bouncing over the cliff.

All the eight injured have been admitted to Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

Melbourne, Australia-resident Jagtar Singh, his wife Sukhwinder Kaur, their two daughters, aged nine and eight, and baby Manmeet had come to New Zealand to celebrate the birthday of Manmeet, the family’s only son.

Sandeep, Jagtar’s brother, was driving the van when the mishap took place.

A helicopter spokeswoman, who went to rescue the victims, said the driver of the van had fallen asleep.

Pilot Jeremy Bruce said several energy drink cans were found lying around the accident site.

Sandeep is understood to have been thrown from the van with Manmeet before a passing motorist found them on the roadside and called emergency services at the scene.

The six others were winched to safety by a chopper.

Jagtar, who is in his 30s, sustained the most serious injuries and is being kept in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital.

The condition of Manmeet, who was also brought into the hospital in a critical state, has become stable overnight, doctors said.

While the condition of Jagtar’s wife is reportedly improving, his two daughters are stable.

Sandeep and two other men who were also in the vehicle are also said to be in stable condition.

Meanwhile, the hospital authorities have allowed Sikh priests to enter the ICU where Jagtar is being kept.

Gurmeet Singh, a former Sikh priest, said he and another priest were called to the hospital to pray for the victims.

“The family are traumatised. It was a serious crash… sometimes it happens, we make mistakes. The family is quite close to me,” Gurmeet was quoted as saying.

According to Gurmeet, Jagtar is likely to be flown to Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch for further treatment.

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