A MOMENTARY lapse of attention is being blamed for an accident on State Highway 2 that left two people dead and five injured.
Investigations into the Sunday morning accident are ongoing and police have appealed for any witnesses to come forward with information.
The crash between a ute and an SUV occurred at approximately 10am near the intersection of Paerata Ridge Road and SH2.
The ute is said to have been pulling out of Paerata Ridge Road on to the state highway, when it collided with the oncoming SUV.
The occupants of the ute, an elderly couple, died at the scene.
A St John media spokesperson said two ambulances and the Trust Power TECT rescue helicopter attended the scene, treating and transporting five patients by road ambulance to Whakatane Hospital.
Three were in a moderate condition and two in a minor condition.
Police and the serious crash unit attended the scene as well.
Senior sergeant Al Fenwick said from initial investigations, the ute seemed to be at fault, pulling out from Paerata Ridge Road onto SH2 into oncoming traffic.
The man died on impact and the woman died shortly afterwards.
Mr Fenwick said it was difficult to investigate incidents like this, which came down to a lapse of judgment.
“It’s frustrating from a policing point of view because it’s not as if they were speeding or drunk-driving, it was just a moment of lapsed attention that then cost two lives.”
Heavy weekend traffic was diverted, and the road was re-opened at 6pm on Sunday.