Daughter discovers parents trapped in wreck

CRASH TRAGEDY: Nancy Skittrup was trapped beside husband Alan’s body.
CRASH TRAGEDY: Nancy Skittrup was trapped beside husband Alan’s body.

An elderly woman spent a cold night trapped beside her husband's dead body after their car crashed down a bank off a rural road.

Nancy Skittrup was badly injured but conscious through her ordeal, which ended only when her daughter found the wrecked car about 9am yesterday, 30 metres down a bank in Puketapu Rd, north of Napier.

Her husband Alan, in his 90s, is believed to have died soon after the car ran off a gravel driveway and came to a stop against a tree.

DIED IN CRASH: Alan Skittrup
DIED IN CRASH: Alan Skittrup

The couple, residents of Taradale Masonic Village, were understood to have been visiting family on Sunday, and the crash happened as they were leaving.

Nancy Skittrup, in her late 80s, was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital in a critical condition with cuts, abrasions and head, chest and hip injuries. She spent last night in a serious condition in the hospital's high-dependency unit.

St John Hawke's Bay district operations manager Stephen Smith said that though she had hearing problems, she was conscious and able to communicate when paramedics arrived.

"I'd say she was a very stoic woman, who has been able to survive through inclement weather."

The Taradale Masonic Village is a retirement home run by the Napier District Masonic Trust. Its general manager, Graeme Taylor, said the Skittrups were "a lovely couple and the entire trust sends condolences to the family".

"We will support Mrs Skittrup in any way we can."

Alan Skittrup's cousin, Joan Nolly, said he was "a wonderful guy and he was always full of jokes".

The Skittrups appeared on television in 2011, sharing memories of the big Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931, when Alan was 11 and Nancy was 5.

"We were out in the park playing leapfrog, and I jumped over this bloke's back and I tried to get up and I kept falling over and I couldn't understand what it was, and I looked across the park and it was like waves, the grass was going just like waves," Alan Skittrup told TV3.

His wife said: "Suddenly it came and all I can remember is my mother picking me up and rushing me out the back and we rolled around on the back yard, just rolled around."

The serious crash unit is investigating.

The Dominion Post