Resident rushes out in bid to help crashed driver

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 23/01/2014
watson

FIRST ON THE SCENE: Neighbour Michael Watson was first on the scene of a fatal crash on No 1 Line.

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The family of a man killed in a crash near Longburn have thanked those who tried to help save his life.

Peter Stephen Robb, 56, of Foxton Beach, was killed when his car left the road on No 1 Line between Tiakitahuna and Longburn about 5.30pm on Tuesday.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined, and police are asking for witnesses to come forward.

The crash happened right outside the home of Michael Watson, who was inside with his family when they heard a "bang".

It was the agitation of their usually quiet dog which alerted them that there was more to it. The vehicle had entered the deep culvert running alongside No 1 Line and come to rest partly against the concrete bridge that makes up their driveway.

Mr Watson, a former fire brigade volunteer, was first to reach Mr Robb, and had to move the car slightly to get the driver's door open.

"You hear people say you don't know your own strength when adrenaline is running through you. I moved that car pretty easy, so maybe there is something to it."

He was helped a short time later by another man, who used one of the broken railings from the bridge to prop the car up slightly.

But there was nothing they could do for Mr Robb.

"When I was in the fire brigade, you got the callout, you know exactly what you're going to, but when you hear a bang, at 10 past, quarter past 5 at night, you don't know what the hell you're running out to and sadly it was him.

"I tried my best. I just hope that someone would do it for my family."

Mr Robb was on his way home from work at Transpacific Waste Management, in Palmerston North, when the crash happened. He was father to two daughters, Hannah Thompson and Rachel Robb.

Ms Thompson said her father was born in Hawke's Bay, and moved to Foxton Beach with wife Wendy about six years ago.

Community minded, he led the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence rescue team to victory in one of their national competitions, and served as a rural fireman, mostly in Hawke's Bay, but also in Foxton Beach.

He and Mrs Robb had lived in Dannevirke before moving to Foxton Beach, and there he enjoyed hosting international exchange students as a "homestay dad", giving them a taste of rural life on their lifestyle block.

"He's got a lot of homestay students that love him very much and will be trying to get here," Ms Thompson said.

He enjoyed going longline fishing at Foxton Beach, and spending time with family, including grandchildren Carlos Thompson, Charlotte Hayward, and baby Eli Barnes, born on January 2 this year.

"He was a great poppa. They called him poppa."

Ms Thompson said they appreciated the overwhelming number of offers of support they'd received.

Palmerston North police would like to hear from anyone who was travelling on No 1 Line between 5pm and 5.30pm on the night of the crash.

Information can be given to Palmerston North police on (06) 351 3600 or provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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- Manawatu Standard

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