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Auckland woman’s car written off after she swerves to avoid hay bale on Northwestern motorway

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An Auckland woman’s car has been written off after she swerved to avoid what she believed was a hay bale on Auckland’s Northwestern motorway.

Katie Stolpmann told the Herald she had picked up something in Albany last Tuesday and came onto State Highway 18 at the Paul Matthews Road on-ramp where she saw a sign indicating there was debris on the motorway.

“It said something like ‘DEBRIS AHEAD. DRIVE CAREFULLY’,“ she said.

Later, when approaching, Patiki Rd off-ramp, Stolpmann saw what she described as a “large hay bale” which was half the size of her Honda Fit.

“At the time, traffic was flowing as normal.”

Katie Stolpmann's car was written off after she was forced to swerve across three lanes to avoid a rogue hay bale on Auckland's State Highway 18.
Katie Stolpmann’s car was written off after she was forced to swerve across three lanes to avoid a rogue hay bale on Auckland’s State Highway 18.

“When I came around the bend, I tried to swerve to miss it. About 10 per cent of it was in the safety shoulder while 90 per cent of it was in the right-hand lane.”

Stolpmann then swerved across three lanes and directly into a Volkswagen station wagon filled with children, and ended up in the bus lane.

But Stolpmann said it wasn’t accurate for NZTA Waka Kotahi to have called a hay bale blocking a motorway lane “debris”.

“I was looking across the lanes for debris such as a broken headlight, not a huge big hay bale,” she said.

“If they can put an LED sign up for debris, why didn’t it say something like ‘obstruction in lane 4’?”

Auckland woman Katie Stolpmann crashed after swerving across three lanes to avoid a stray hay bale on State Highway 18.
Auckland woman Katie Stolpmann crashed after swerving across three lanes to avoid a stray hay bale on State Highway 18.

“There is no way to see it if you’re going 100km/h.”

Stoplmann’s car is now completely written off and she is unable to commute to her work as a cleaning supervisor across Auckland.

“I have a car full of equipment and I supervise a bunch of cleaners who clean about six houses every day, so I’m travelling all the time.”

She now has to apply for finance to buy another car.

“There is no way to get to six houses from Silverdale to Gulf Harbour each day. I can’t work at the moment so I’ve completely lost my job.”

Her insurance has also lapsed.

She wanted to know where the hay bale came from and why there was no diversion.

“It was just sitting there on the blind corner.”

A police spokesperson said: “It appears that something had fallen from a vehicle at some point that looked like a bag of garden waste and one vehicle swerved to avoid it, hitting another car”.

“No one was injured, the cars were only blocking one lane – southbound between Te Atatū on-ramp and Patiki Rd off-ramp – for a short time.”

Police said two bags of garden waste were reported at 3.15pm.

The Herald has approached NZTA Waka Kotahi for comment.



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