Locator beacon made all the difference in remote crash

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Emergency services at the scene.

A rescue service operator says a man flown to Dunedin in a serious condition after his car crashed and rolled down a remote Central Otago hillside was lucky to have an emergency locator beacon.

Helicopter Otago chief executive officer Graeme Gale said it could have been ‘‘absolutely hours’’ before the seriously injured man was rescued, given the remote location in the Ettrick area where the crash occurred.

Emergency services were alerted about 7am today, Mr Gale said.

The crash was unusual because the driver had a personal locator beacon and was able to activate it.

The area where the incident occurred had no cell phone coverage.

Mr Gale believed the beacon made a ‘‘significant difference’’ to the outcome of the patient, who was transported by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital.

Without it, the patient might not have been found until the next day, as there would have been ‘‘a whole lot of things against being found’’.

He hailed the ‘‘sterling job’’ done by the Rescue Coordinating Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

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The driver was flown to Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition.

RCCNZ senior search and rescue officer Nick Burt said it responded to a beacon alert at 7am in rural Central Otago.

The landowner was identified and was able to tell them the incident was a motor vehicle accident. This allowed police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) to be informed.

The helicopter was updated while on its way to the scene.

Mr Gale encouraged people to register their beacons.

A Fenz spokesman said crews from Roxborough and Millers Flat attended the scene. One person was trapped and the jaws of life were used to free them.

A police spokeswoman said inquiries into the circumstances of the crash were ongoing.

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