THE 55-year-old Gisborne man killed in a head-on collision in Opotiki on Saturday has been described as “incredibly artistic” and “a top bloke” who will be missed terribly within the hot rod fraternity.
Carl Wayne Holmberg was driving his 1963 Chevy Nova towards Ohope with wife Sue, 54, and daughter Charley, 14, passengers when they collided with an SUV being driven in the opposite direction that had crossed the centre line.
The crash happened at the town-side of the Waioeka Bridge at about 3pm.
Opotiki deputy chief fire officer Rob Sturdy said one vehicle crossed over onto the wrong side of the road.
“There were four patients in total, one of whom died at the scene.
“It’s very sad,” he said.
One person suffered minor injuries and the two other had moderate injuries.
“Two rescue helicopters were called in to transport the patients and the road was blocked for three to four hours,” Mr Sturdy said.
TECT Rescue Helicopter pilot Liam Brettkelly said following the crash, a 14-year-old girl who had suffered abdominal and facial injuries was flown to Tauranga Hospital.
“The following day, on the Sunday, we transferred her mother, who suffered back injuries, from Tauranga to the Middlemore Hospital,” he said.
The Gisborne Herald reports Charley was treated and discharged from Tauranga Hospital and is now in Auckland with her mother and close friends from Gisborne.
Family spokesman Kevin Birtwistle, a close friend of Mr Holmberg, said the hot rod fraternity would miss him terribly.
Mr Birtwistle was travelling in the car behind the family when it happened.
“He was an awesome dad, an awesome husband and an all-round top bloke,” Mr Birtwistle told the Gisborne Herald. “His artistic ability was incredible.”
Mr Holmberg owned Bear’s Signs, which he started in 1985.
He has been described as very clever, with a passion for hot rodding.
Mr Holmberg was also a life member of the Surf City Rod and Custom Club, which he had been part of for around 37 years, holding positions as committee member, treasurer and president during that time. He also worked at Martin’s Hire Centre many years ago.
The police Serious Crash Unit is investigating the crash.
Meanwhile, on Sunday afternoon, power was lost along Waioeka Road after a car crashed into a power pole by the Clarks Cross Road intersection.
Mr Sturdy said that while the power lines were brought down, there were no serious injuries in the crash.