Coromandel triple-fatal crash: Motorist who came close to being caught up in smash describes accident as 'truly devastating'

A motorist has described narrowly missing being involved in a triple-fatal crash on Kopu Bridge in the Coromandal last night.

Three people died and one person was critically injured after the two-car collision just before 8.30pm.

Karl Smith wrote on Facebook that he missed the accident by "less then one minute" having pulled over to make a phone call, NZ Herald reports.

He described the accident as "truly devastating".

"This was less than one minute before the crash," Mr Smith wrote.

"If I didn't pull over, I might have ended up as part of the collision," he wrote.

"My thoughts and prayers go towards the friends and relatives of the three killed and the one injured. Truly devastating." 

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

MPs give self-confessed medicinal cannabis law-breakers second chance

Hundreds of medicinal cannabis advocates have been told to reconsider their submissions to parliament on a government bill that could widen access to the drug.

They've divulged illegal drug use and cultivation, and even serious mental health problems including past suicide attempts.

But now the Health Select Committee is offering them the chance to change their submissions before they're made public.

"We [had] quite a few submitters disclose they were using cannabis," said Labour MP and Health Select Committee chair Louisa Wall.

On the advice of parliament's Clerk, the committee told 224 of the more than 2,000 submitters that because of what they'd shared they could withdraw, amend, or anonymise their submissions, or leave them unchanged.

1NEWS has been told many people who use cannabis therapeutically were too scared to make a submission and tell their story about how ill-gotten cannabis had improved their lives.

The Drug Foundation's executive director said getting a note back from the committee was "kind of a bit scary".

"You're admitting to breaking the law or you're admitting to these other things," he said. "It's made people really nervous and wonder should they in fact keep their submission involved in this process."

The note sent out last week said: "In terms of criminal liability ... submissions are protected by parliamentary privilege".

But because the submissions would be published permanently to parliament's website, where they'd be searchable by name, that privilege would "not prevent an investigation taking place independently".

"We did want to highlight that the process is incredibly public, and that [submitters] did have to make some decisions about what they'd chosen to disclose," Miss Wall said.

She conceded parliamentary staff could have made it clearer that people could submit anonymously from the beginning, but emphasised the action the committee had now taken was to protect submitters.

That said, not everyone's been deterred.

One woman told 1 NEWS she started giving her adult son cannabis five years ago to manage his epilepsy, autism, and severe self harming behaviours.

She said her son was now much better. However, she also said she's always scared the police will knock down her door because of the drugs. She wants MPs to know her story, and is keeping her submission as it is.

"If they are prepared to go on record, in defiance of the law, then they should do that as well and highlight the silliness around our current law," Mr Bell said.

Individuals have until the middle of next week to withdraw or amend their submissions.

Close-up shot of hemp
Source: Te Karere


Two injured in crash near Hanmer Springs

A crash involving a car in Canterbury has closed a highway and left two people injured.

Police were called to crash near Hanmer Springs at 4am this morning on the Percival Bridge on Hanmer Springs Road. 

The two people have been transfered to Christchurch hospital with critical and serious injuries. 

Police say River Road and Jollies Pass Road are closed and diversions are in place.  

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating and motorists should expect delays. 

Car crash scene near Hanmer Springs.
Car crash scene near Hanmer Springs. Source: 1 NEWS