Man killed by Auckland tornado had young children

Last updated 18:49 04/05/2011
Hamish Coleman-Ross

A deadly tornado stuns Auckland. By Hamish Coleman-Ross.

FAMILY GRIEVING: Benedict Dacayan, a married father of two, was killed when a tornado struck Auckland on Tuesday.
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FAMILY GRIEVING: Benedict Dacayan, a married father of two, was killed when a tornado struck Auckland on Tuesday.
Damaged cars in the carpark of the Albany Mega Centre where a tornado struck this afternoon.
JOHN SELKIRK Zoom
Damaged cars in the carpark of the Albany Mega Centre after the tornado struck.

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Benedict Dacayan, a construction worker killed by the Auckland tornado, was married with young children.

He died at the scene in spite of the efforts of student nurse Sophie Bond and others to save his life. Another of his Fletcher Building colleagues was critically injured.

The sudden death of the Filipino father of two shocked his work colleagues.


Were you there when the tornado struck? Email us at newstips@stuff.co.nz


Police released Dacayan's name this afternoon.

The 37-year-old North Shore resident worked for Fletcher Building and was part of a team of 15 helping to demolish the old Placemakers building in Albany when the tornado lifted him into the air and threw him into a concrete wall.

Philippines Consulate General Emillie Shi said Dacayan had two small children.

A weeping relative at the Dacayan house said he was too grief-stricken to talk when called.

"Everyone's grieving at the moment. Please respect that."

Bronson Reardon and Trevor Perkinson were also working in the Placemakers building when Dacayan was killed and described and the scene which hit them.

''The bloody thing [the tornado] came straight over the top of us. I told my mate to get down and start running,'' he said.

Debris was flying everywhere, and a yellow car came through the roof. He did not know where to run and was pinned down by a fence, ''kissing dirt''. His colleague fell on top of him.

Reardon said another man was trapped underneath a piece of steel: ''Five of us lifted that off him.''

Philip King, general manager investor relations for Fletcher Building, said workers were shocked at the death.

"It's traumatic, as you can imagine, and shocking. So everyone's reasonably subdued today it would be fair to say.

"We've got our welfare and support people assisting the deceased man's family, and also counselling for other staff involved."

The man had worked for Fletchers for about five years.

The Placemakers building was being renovated and Fletcher Building had two site offices in the carpark. Both were badly damaged, King said.

"He was in one of the portable side offices. It's a building site so he was working in the site office there. It was significantly damaged by the tornado."

King said the workers had no time to react to the approaching tornado.

"It came out of nowhere, very very quickly, no real warning."

Another Fletcher employee suffered a broken leg in the disaster, and one of the subcontractors working on the same site was in hospital as a result of his injuries.

SHOPS RE-OPEN

Half of Westfield Mall in Albany and ninety percent of the Mega Centre are now open for business.

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North Shore police say most of the northern sector of the mall was reopened about midday.

Police are urging members of the public not to enter areas of the mall that remain cordoned off.

Parts of the southern end of the Albany Mega Centre will remain inaccessible to the public, and police warn there will be some disruption for motorists.

There will be a strong police presence in areas affected by the tornado over the next 24 hours.

Police say there was extensive damage to sectors of Westfield, Pak n Save and other commercial locations as a result of yesterday's tornado.

The Pak 'n Save supermarket is undergoing repairs and is expected to open today.

Rubberneckers and people taking photos had been causing traffic delays around the Albany retail area.

PROPERTY DAMAGE CHECKS

Council workers are today going door-to-door assessing property damage along Roseberry Ave in Birkenhead, one of the worst-hit streets from the tornado.

Auckland Civil Defence controller Clive Manley said out of the total of 27 properties damaged yesterday, 20 were in the avenue, with one left uninhabitable.

The avenue is attracting a steady stream of onlookers, many with cameras, and security guards as well as police are positioned near some of the worst-damaged homes.

Workers were using a tree trimmer to remove trees.

Resident Timothy Malcolm said he and his wife came home to find their car buried under a tree and part of their deck covered in debris.

The tornado had gone right up their driveway, leaving their housebound dog very nervous.

"We're very lucky it could have been a lot worse."

Malcolm praised the efforts from the council, saying an assessment team had already visited their home today.

Auckland mayor Len Brown was due to visit the street today.

Government minister and local MP Jonathan Coleman stopped at the badly-damaged residential area, which is in his electorate, and spoke with residents.

One resident who did not want to be named said she thought people "had gotten off lightly" considering the force of the tornado.

The woman said she had even gone to work at North Shore Hospital last night.

"It was the usual trade."

MIRACLE ONLY ONE DEATH: MP

It was a miracle only one person died during the tornado, Coleman said.

The Northcote MP was being shown the destruction by police, following part of the path of the tornado from the Albany Mega Centre to Glenfield College.

He said he would be reporting back to Prime Minister John Key, who was keen to hear a first-hand account of what the scene was like.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall was with him.

He praised the response by emergency service workers, saying they had performed with professionalism.

Coleman said that for the most part, life would return to normal for most people very quickly, but he sent his sympathy to the family of the man who died.

Coleman, Marshall, and Inspector Gary Davey met with the principal of Glenfield College, Ted Benton, and inspected damage at the school.

Benton described how the tornado had picked debris up and dumped it in a school field, as he showed a long section of destroyed metal fencing along the school's border.

He said assessors were due at the school this morning and he hoped the damage would be fixed quickly.

VICTIM THROWN THROUGH AIR

Sophie Bond told Radio New Zealand the twister came out of nowhere.

She came across the man who had flown through the air and tried to save him.

"It was too late," she said.

"There was a lot of blood land when we rolled him over, we could see he had a very bad head wound."

She described Albany as "a scene of carnage".

Bronson Reardon, working at Placemakers, saw the man lying on the ground.

"He wasn't moving. There was blood coming out of his eyes and ears."

Local business manager Tinus van Liggererbberg told TVNZ he tried to resuscitate the man.

"Don't know where he came from, don't know what happened. Must have been blown from somewhere. Terrible scene,'' he said.

The man died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Another man was trapped underneath a piece of steel.

"Five of us lifted that off him," van Liggererbberg said.

Nearby three young children were trapped when their parked car was flipped into the air, landing upside down. They were unhurt.

- By MICHAEL FIELD, BELINDA MCCAMMON AND SARAH HARVEY/Stuff

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