A MASTERTON schoolboy received serious head injuries in a midnight car crash near the town on Thursday after the vehicle in which he was a passenger struck the same lamppost where another teenager died in a freakishly similar collision almost three years ago.
Patrick Lee, 16, was a rear seat passenger in the vehicle and was yesterday listed in a stable condition at Wairarapa Hospital after emergency surgery for the head wound he suffered in the crash.
Wairarapa Ambulance Service operations manager Steve Crew said the other three teenage occupants of the car were also taken to Wairarapa Hospital with minor lacerations.
The 18-year-old driver was held overnight for observation.
West Bush Road resident and Fernridge School teacher Paul Adamson was first to the scene after the crash and said he immediately feared someone had been killed.
"I was lying in bed and was woken by this car whistling down the road.
"I heard two gear changes then revving followed by brakes and a bang. There's no sound like it."
Mr Adamson dressed and drove to the crash site where he came across one of the teenagers "jumping on the road trying to wave me down."
The car was so badly damaged he could not tell the rear from the front until some time afterwards, he said.
"It was bloody awful, one kid (Patrick) was halfway out the back of the car and his head was (badly injured). I thought he was dead."
"I scampered back to my car and grabbed a couple of tea-towels and as carefully as I could to stop the bleeding.
"He started to come to and kept saying 'I've got to get out, I've got to get out' and so I basically just tried to calm him down."
Mr Adamson, who has two teenage sons of his own, said he then asked the boy if he was able to move all his fingers and toes to discover whether he had suffered neck or spinal injuries.
"He was able to move a bit but the seatbelt was putting a lot of pressure on his chest, which I think he'd hurt in the crash, and he told me he couldn't breathe.
"So I released his seatbelt and it was like a birth, he just slithered out of the vehicle and into my arms."
He said his wife Suzie also drove to the scene with a cold compress to help reduce any swelling.
By this time another neighbour, who lives on the corner of West Bush and Boundary roads, had called emergency services and police arrived on the scene within 10 minutes, he said.
"The ambulance and fire brigade were fantastic when they arrived, they did a great job talking with the kids and securing the road."
Masterton police Senior Sergeant Warwick Burr said the car was travelling up West Bush Road around 11.55pm when the driver failed to take a bend and careered across the centre line before striking a stump and slamming airborne through a fence, striking the pole about two metres from ground level.
A memorial cross was broken during the collision that marks the spot near the Boundary Road corner where 17-year-old Clayton Boyce was killed in 2004.
Mr Burr said the vehicle involved in the Thursday night crash was not warranted or registered and had been towed to Porirua for inspection. Wellington's Serious Crash Unit attended the scene and investigations into the accident are continuing, he said.
It was too early to speculate on whether charges were likely to be laid against the driver, Mr Burr said.
The latest collision was a near carbon copy of the crash that killed Clayton Boyce and left driver Sean Murphy a paraplegic in April 2004.
Two other passengers in the earlier crash, Jessica Holwells and Alistair Brock, escaped serious injury.
In both instances the vehicles involved struck the pole side-on, with the rear driver side passenger taking the brunt of the impact.
Mr Murphy pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving causing death and two of causing injury in February 2005 and was sentenced to 300 hours community work.