Stephen and Dianne Byrne were hurt in a crash along with their children as they traveled to Blenheim for a gymnastics competition. Photo: Supplied.

Car accident leaves dad and daughter in critical condition

Seven-year-old Gracie Byrne was on her way to support her brother at a gymnastics competition in Blenheim when she was critically injured in a car accident.

The family of four from Christchurch were heading to the annual Schools’ Gymnastics Festival at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 when their car careered off the road.

Her dad Steven, 41, was also badly hurt in the crash which injured her older brother Evan, 13, and mum Dianne.

Gracie was transferred to Auckland’s Starship Hospital where she was yesterday in intensive care in a stable condition.

Members of Blenheim’s close-knit gymnastics community have expressed their shock and say their thoughts are with the girl’s family.

Blenheim Gymnastics Club spokesman Tony Quirk says the South Island clubs are very close.

“As a club we feel very much for the family.

“The gymnastic fraternity is very close especially within the South Island given we have so much contact.

We pray for their full recovery,” he says.

The family’s car flipped several times before rolling to a stop on its side in a paddock near Okaramio on Saturday.

Both father and daughter were rushed by Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter to Wellington Hospital.

Evan and Dianne were taken to Wairau Hospital by ambulance where a spokeswoman says there were in a stable condition at the time of going to press on Monday.

The talented young gymnast is from the Christchurch School of Gymnastics.

Spokeswoman Avril Enslow says Grace is a trampoline member and was travelling with her family to the competition with her brother who was entered.

“The gymnast is Evan Byrne 13 years, he has bruising and cracked ribs and jaw pain he is not totally cleared yet but looks to be able to travel home tomorrow (Wednesday).

“His mother Dianne will be medically transferred to Auckland to be close to her daughter.

“Dad is doing better and maybe released back to Christchurch later this week. It was a horrific crash caused by a medical event.

Emergency services were called to the scene north of Blenheim on SH6 about 12.35pm on Saturday.

The Serious Crash Unit were on the scene until around 3.35pm when the road was reopened.

A Givealittle page has been set up by a close friend of the family, Andy Milne. More than $3000 was donated within a few hours.

To donate visit

Fire crews win battle over Ward blaze

A blaze believed to be caused by a train carriage derailment is out.

Fire crews tackled a blaze alongside SH1, thought to be caused by a train carriage derailment this afternoon.

Two crews from Ward and crews from Seddon and Rarangi battled a fire between Ward and the Ure River, three kilometres south of Ward.

Spanning 20 metres in length, the fire is believed to be connected to an incident involving a KiwiRail Ltd freight train.

There is no threat to road traffic, but trains have been stopped as a precaution.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman says a train had caused the damage.

“It’s been caused by the train somehow. There are reports of damage to sleepers, like something was dragged along,” he says.

A helicopter has been called in to tackle a blaze which crews cannot get to by road.

The derailment of a KiwiRail carriage was reported to emergency services at about 2.15pm.

“A wagon on a freight service travelling north on the Main North Line partially derailed near Taimate this afternoon,” a KiwiRail spokeswoman says.

“KiwiRail is investigating the cause of the derailment, and its possible link to two fires beside the tracks,” she says.

There were no injuries and the wagon remains upright on the tracks, the spokeswoman says.

Rail services have been suspended while investigations are underway.