New Zealand army Unimog crash leaves one solider dead

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Private Meredith Simms, 18-years-old, died yesterday when the New Zealand Army Mercedes-Benz Unimog truck he was travelling in left the road and fell 100-metres down a steep bank 2.30 p.m. yesterday (NZST), coming to rest on railway tracks. The soldier driving the truck was critically injured and was flown by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to Wellington Hospital, where he is being treated for spinal cord injuries.

The Unimog was travelling in a convoy 14-kilometres southeast of Blenheim on State Highway 1, Weld Pass.

The New Zealand police have launched an inquiry into the fatal accident. The Unimog has been removed from the scene of the crash and will now be examined. The police say that they will guard the scene and finish examining it today.

The accident occurred when the Unimog was returning back to the Burnham Military Camp, Christchurch, where all soldiers were from. It followed a ten day exercise which involved 15 vehicles in Marlborough. The other soldiers went to the RNZAF Base Woodbourne base to receive counselling from a military chaplain, military psychologist and police victim support, they are returning to Burnham today.

The family of the deceased said their son "died doing what he loved," and have requested privacy.

Simms' death has been referred to a coroner.

Since 1994 there have been eight fatal accidents involving Unimogs.