Six people were injured on Sunday evening when their car left the road and plunged into the river just past the midway point of the Waioeka Gorge.
The Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter was dispatched just after 7.30pm to attend the crash and was soon joined by the Aerocool Rescue Helicopter, from Tauranga.
With the support of NZ Police, Fire and Emergency NZ and Hato Hone St John, the Aerocool crew treated patients on land while the Eastland Rescue Helicopter team winched out two patients who had been trapped in the vehicle in the river.
All six occupants were treated at the scene, with the rescue helicopters each flying two patients to Whakatane Hospital.
A NZ Police spokesman says the road was under management for the more than two hours emergency services were at the scene.
Sunday night’s rescue was one of five reportable missions carried out by the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter in the week from January 8 until the early hours of Monday morning.
– At 4pm on January 10, team responded to a trauma in Wairoa, with the patient flown in stable condition to Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, in Hastings.
– At 6.30pm the following day the team responded to a medical event in Ruatoria, flying the patient in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
– At 5pm on January 14 they were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident at Waihau Bay, from where the patient was flown in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
– Then at 3.17am on Monday morning, just three hours after their return from the Waioeka Gorge mission, the team was dispatched to Tikitiki for a medical event. The patient was again flown in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
CAPTION: RIVER RESCUE: A member of the Aerocool Rescue Helicopter crew observes as the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team winches two patients from the Waioeka River after a motor vehicle accident in the gorge on Sunday evening. Picture courtesy Matawai Fire Brigade.