Heroes' bravery rewarded

Medals for pair who pulled drivers from crash

Last updated 14:06 20/03/2014
Martin Kay and Colin Wiggins
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

RELUCTANT HEROES: Colin Wiggins, left, and Martin Kay have been awarded bravery medals after they pulled drivers from a fiery crash near Hastings.

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A pair of reluctant heroes who saved two men from burning vehicles say they finally have closure, after being awarded with bravery medals today.

Wellingtonian Martin Kay and Hastings man Colin Wiggins received their awards from Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae at an investiture ceremony at Government House.

Kay and Wiggins were in separate cars when they witnessed a crash between a car and truck near Hastings on October 16, 2010.

The crash trapped both drivers, and the men raced to free them. Both vehicles were on fire.

They dragged the driver of the car to safety, but could not see inside the smoke-filled truck.

After smashing out the windscreen with a hammer, they managed to drag the driver of the truck to safety before the cab was engulfed in flames. The heat and intensity of the fire set the road's tar seal on fire.

Speaking after the ceremony today, Kay and Wiggins both said it had taken a long time to come to terms with what happened.

"I've stopped thinking about [it as] something that was really horrible that I never wanted to think about again," Kay, a former Dominion Post journalist, said.

"[Now] it will be, 'what a great day that was for the family'."

Kay later wrote a feature about the experience.

Wiggins, who received therapy after the incident, said today's ceremony had brought closure. 

"One of the firemen said to me after the whole thing had finished, he said, 'Col... that doesn't normally happen. That happens on movie sets, not for real."

Kay said for years he had found it hard to watch movies where there were scenes involving car crashes.

"It just triggers something," he said.

"I don't think that's going to happen anymore now, hopefully."

Both men agreed they would go through it all again if it meant helping someone.

"I think most people would," Kay said.

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- The Dominion Post

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