Shannon Buick was on the verge of starting a career, but now her family is planning her funeral.
The promising 23-year-old was driving her little sister home on Friday night when the pair were in a head-on collision on the road they lived on, in the rural outskirts of Masterton.
Shannon had picked up her sister Kaitlin, 16, from her after-school job at Mitre 10 Mega in Masterton. As the girls drove along Paierau Rd in Matahiwi about 6pm they collided head-on with a southbound car driven by a 24-year-old Masterton man.
Shannon died at the scene while Kaitlin was seriously injured and is now in Wellington Hospital in a serious condition.
Speaking for the distraught family, Shannon's auntie Kay Pankhurst said her niece was a hard-working farm girl.
"She was an awesome young lady, a really special person. She was a typical hard-working farm kid. She was the more outgoing bubbly one and always made an effort to chat. When she was a kid we always used to say she had real spunk."
Part of a tight-knit family, the sisters were close and initially Kaitlin did not know Shannon had died. Although the family knew Kaitlin would have to deal with her grief on top of her recovery, Mrs Pankhurst said the family's decision to tell her had been the right one.
"She's doing OK - fingers crossed," Mrs Pankhurst said. "It's every parent's worst nightmare and these guys are living it," she said of the sisters' parents Ian and Linda Buick.
One of the most difficult aspects of her death was that she had been on the brink of beginning a promising career.
"Her life was ahead of her, things were falling into place. That's the hard thing about it."
Last year Shannon was one of 15 recipients of the Sydney Campbell Memorial Trust undergraduate scholarship, which is awarded annually to Wairarapa agriculture students.
She had graduated from Massey University with a bachelor of science in animal science in Palmerston North in May and had just taken a full-time job at Masterton stockfeed supplier Seeds & Cereal. She had also been toying with the idea of training or handling airport sniffer dogs and going into the beef and lamb industry.
Her love of animals was a constant throughout her life and she had volunteered at the SPCA.
Masterton senior firefighter Andy Simpson was at the crash on Friday and said a new technique the fire service was rolling out nationally had been critical in saving Kaitlin's life. Using the time-critical extraction technique firefighters were able to get the sisters out of the crushed car in just nine minutes.
The method involves making cuts in the car, which is then pulled apart by two fire trucks.
"It's a very quick method of getting victims out of a bad wreck," Mr Simpson said.
Masterton road policing Sergeant Chris Megaw praised the efforts of emergency services and passing motorists who had stopped to help.
The man who was driving the other car was up and walking around when emergency services arrived at the scene and was now in Wairarapa Hospital with suspected internal stomach injuries.
Serious Crash Unit investigations were ongoing and although it was not known what caused the collision, both cars were found in the northbound lane, in which the sisters had been driving.
Police were awaiting the results of alcohol samples taken from both drivers but no charges had yet been laid, he said.
Police are still appealing for witnesses or for anyone who had helped at the scene.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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