Killed wharfie a 'gentle soul'

Last updated 14:48 23/12/2013
Warren Ritchie
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CRUSHED: Warren Ritchie was killed while on a ship in Lyttelton.

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A wharfie killed at Lyttelton Port was a ''gentle'' soul who went to sea at 15 and loved ships.

Lyttelton man Warren Ritchie, 49, was crushed while working on a ship moored at Lyttelton Port on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Maritime NZ said he was struck by the ship's crane grab while unloading urea in the hold.

It is the second death in a month at Lyttelton Port.

Bill Frost died while working there on November 26. The 58-year-old was pinned between a logging truck trailer and a forklift on the port's No 2 Wharf.

Ritchie's mother, Helen Dungey, said ''Frosty'' was a friend of hers.

''That was tragic . . . and now Warren. They have got to look into [safety at the port] and they will,'' she said.

''It has taken my boy's death to wake them up."

Dungey said Ritchie was a ''lovely, gentle" person, who grew up in Lyttelton.

He joined the merchant navy as a deck hand at 15 and ''loved it to bits''.

Ritchie met his wife six years later and they fell in love and were together for 23 years.

Dungey said her son ''went through hell'' when they separated a year ago, but they still spoke regularly.

''An hour before he died he text her. He cared so much and she still cared for him. They just went their own ways.''

Ritchie had only recently returned to work at the port after years working various jobs in town.

''He was just getting his life back together. He was so happy to be back with the ships,'' said Dungey.

''Everyone loved Warren. He was a very gentle man. He loved nature. He did not drink. He just liked to sit outside, have a fag and watch the sea.''

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