A hero truck driver has told how he swerved to avoid a young boy who had tumbled out of a car in front at up to 85 kilometres an hour, then used his truck to stop the car whose driver was losing consciousness.
Seven Sharp caught up with truck driver Gene Browne, whose routine trip north on State Highway 1 in Waikato on Tuesday morning was anything but mundane.
He and his passenger, Steve Mitchell, were travelling between Meremere and Mercer when a small child started leaning out the passenger window of the Mitsubishi Mirage in front and waving at them.
Mr Browne now knows the child was 10-year-old Ryan Farrelly, and his nana Kathie Page was driving but had begun to lose consciousness.
"We didn't think much about it and then he did it again. So we kind of yelled, 'Get back in the car, you might have an accident'," Mr Brown recounted, speaking from Palmerston North.
The car then started to swerve and slow down, so Mr Browne went to pass.
"And it sped up and swerved into our lane. So I put the brake on, pulled back behind the car.
"And then the passenger door opened and the child came out. And then he kind of slid across the road and started to tumble towards the truck. So I hit the brakes, swerved out of the way so we didn't run him over.
"We looked in the mirror to see what was going on and the cars behind us were stopping to kind of get him. And we noticed the car in front kept going.
"So we pulled up and beeped the horn, but they just kept driving. So we accelerated in front of the car and I used the back of the truck to actually slow the car down, so physically stopped the car."
Truck passenger Steve Marshall went to the car while Mr Browne called 111, by which time an ambulance that just happened to be in the area turned up.
"When I took evasive action, my eyes swept across the speedo. We were doing 80 to 85, so he [Ryan] actually came out the car and started to tumble at 80 to 85 k's an hour," Mr Browne said.
"He had really bad grazes, because I checked up on him when he was in the back of the ambulance. And we were quite surprised at how lucky he really was. I mean he didn't get hit by the truck and he was certainly lucky tumbling down the motorway at that speed."
Mr Browne is "not that comfortable" with the hero tag.
"I was probably just the person with the right skills, happened to be in the right place."
It turns out the truckie is a specialist driving instructor who teaches emergency braking, ABS braking and vehicle control for a job.
"So effectively it was just what I teach all my students anyway. So I'm glad it came into use."
Ryan and his nana, who's recovering well, never got the chance to thank the truckie because he left the scene once emergency services had everything under control. But she gave Mr Browne a call last night.