Family, including baby, escapes fatal Lewis Pass crash, appeals to public to find beloved dog

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jun 03, 2023 |

7-month-old Isla survives fatal crash unscathed. Her family are now urging the public to help find their missing dog who ran from the scene. [Photos provided with permission from family]

A Canterbury mother is counting blessings after the ute she was travelling in, with her partner and baby, flipped upside down in a fatal crash on the Lewis Pass.

The crash happened at 4.45PM on Friday at the Shale Peak Stream Bridge, 25 minutes in-land from the Hanmer Springs turn-off.

Speaking to Chris Lynch Media on Saturday afternoon, Culverden resident Hailey Palmer said she and her family were travelling to Nelson when the crash happened.

Photo: Hailey Palmer [Photo provided with permission from family]

“I just remember my partner saying “what the f**k is he doing!”

Then I looked up and a car was on our side of the road coming straight at us.

“The airbags went off, and then I just remember asking my partner if he was okay and seeing people running towards our ute.

“We were screaming for them to get the baby out first. I managed to undo my seatbelt and crawl to the back seat and get her unbuckled. I then passed her out of the broken window to a bystander who helped me out” Hailey said.

The driver of the other vehicle died at the scene.

Hailey said her 7-month-old daughter Isla was “absolutely fine” and was Christchurch hospital on Saturday afternoon “being checked over as a precaution, but was “happy and healthy.”

“Absolutely fine” Hailey’s 7-month-old daughter Isla being checked over at Christchurch Hospital [Photo provided with permission from family]

“She was in an amazing car seat and came out of the crash with no injuries at all.

I was front passenger and had a nose bleed from airbags and seatbelt bruising.

“My partner, the driver, had a fractured foot and seatbelt bruising – so we are all very lucky.”

Isla was amazing the whole time and she loved all the attention she was getting during her first ambulance ride.”

Photo: Hailey Palmer [Photo provided with permission from family]

Despite the family’s incredible escape, their much loved three year old border collie Ace, who was in the back of the ute, went missing after slipping out of his collar and running from the scene.

Hailey was urging travellers to keep a look out for Ace along the Lewis Pass.

“He’s a bit bigger than the usual border collie size” Hailey said.

Three year old border collie Ace missing after running from fatal crash on the Lewis Pass

Three year old border collie Ace missing after running from fatal crash on the Lewis Pass

Photo: Hailey Palmer

Meanwhile, a motorist who witnessed the aftermath of the crash said the driver of the car who died had been tailgating her for up to “a good 10 minutes.”

“It was evident he wanted to pass but couldn’t because of the windy corners” she said.

“Once he was able to, we saw him weaving in and out, passing cars. Not very long after that we passed over a hill and saw the tail end of the accident.”

The ill-fated driver’s car was facing the wrong way on the left side of the road.

The Serious Crash Unit attended the scene.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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