Neighbours tried to save woman

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 17/10/2012
Ruth Tapper and Shashi Lala say their bravery award brings back sad memories
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
DID WHAT THEY COULD: Ruth Tapper and Shashi Lala say their bravery award brings back sad memories.

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Shashi Lala did not at first want recognition for trying to save a neighbour who was stabbed to death.

"I didn't want to because it was so sad, but I thought about it and decided this way there would be something good to remember."

Mrs Lala, Ruth Tapper and Filipo Numia were honoured with Safety in the City Awards at Wellington's city council chambers last night.

The three tried to save Assyrian woman Eman Jani Hurmiz, who was stabbed 55 times by her husband Najeeb Dawood in a shed behind their Strathmore home in September last year.

While the group could not save Ms Hurmiz, they managed to cut down Dawood, who had tried to hang himself after the stabbing.

Mrs Lala was at her Raukawa St dairy when Ms Hurmiz's daughter run into the store, crying, "Please help me, help me, help my mum."

"All the time I remember her coming into my shop and it is still a sad feeling."

It was another neighbour, Ms Tapper, who knocked open the shed door to reach Ms Hurmiz, tried to stem her bleeding and cut Dawood down from the roof.

Yesterday, Ms Tapper said the award recognised how a community came together in a crisis.

"But everyone wished it could be different. It is very hard to receive this, even a year later."

Another neighbour, Frank Meyer, nominated the others for the award and initially turned down an offer to recognise his own efforts that day.

However, after acknowledging his involvement, he decided to be included on the citation.

Mr Meyer and others had called police about domestic unrest at the house before Ms Hurmiz's death but she had always defended her husband.

He said he wished he had tried harder to get to know the couple and understand their culture.

"I didn't know how to say, ‘hello' in Assyrian, but I know now."

Mr Meyer said he still thought regularly about the death but took comfort in his neighbours' response. "I know that we, as neighbours, would do anything for anybody."

SAFETY IN THE CITY AWARD RECIPIENTS

Geoff Procter and Wayne Stevens

The two ambulance drivers risked their lives to pull a woman from a burning car. It was wedged against median barrier, billowing smoke, and the driver was pinned by the steering wheel. They freed her seconds before the car was engulfed by flames.

Nicholas Klenyhans

Came across a young man on a bridge, who wanted to end his life after losing his girlfriend and being assaulted. Through listening and gentle reasoning, Mr Klenyhans persuaded him to go to hospital.

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Gerald Lane

The Maritime Police senior constable dived into the harbour off Taranaki St wharf after receiving reports that a child had fallen in on Guy Fawkes night last year. Instead, he found a woman desperately trying to stay afloat in the cold. Without his quick actions, the woman is likely to have died.

Kylie Hook

The road engineer used first-aid training to save a cyclist who suffered a heart attack. Driving to work, he and a colleague noticed a crowd gathering around a man lying on the ground. Mr Hook used CPR until paramedics arrived. The cyclist survived.

Gerry Foxley

The Shag Coffee Cart worker jumped into the harbour when the Wellington wind blew a man into the water. He carried him on his back, pulled him to a ladder and helped him get back on to the wharf safely.

Rod Baxter

Many community art projects have started in one of Mr Baxter's workshops, including the murals at Opera House and Lukes lanes. Mr Baxter works with youth through the Boys and Girls Institute programmes, with a focus using street art in positive safe way.

Marilyn Northcotte

Through the Cycle Aware and Bike to Work programmes, Ms Northcotte promotes proper protection gear, lights and bike maintenance. Wellington City Council has noted a reduction in cycling injuries.

Laurie Gallagher, John Yaldwyn and Wayne Stevens

Members of LandSAR Wellington for more than 25 years, they have helped save dozens of people. Apart from rescues, Mr Gallagher makes a big contribution to the Mountain Safety Council; Mr Yaldwyn provides expert advice on operating radios to enable emergency communications; and Mr Stevens volunteers as a paramedic for Wellington Free Ambulance.

Stewart Osbourne and Jonty McGrigor

On seeing a young woman being bullied at Johnsonville Station, the Tranz Metro workers delayed the train and went to her aid, helping her gather her belongings.

Related story:

Cuba Mall car fire sparks courageous action

- © Fairfax NZ News

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