The sole survivor of a car crash which claimed the lives of four Argentine tourists has been discharged from hospital and will return to Chile.
Benjamin Blake, 25, was the only person to survive a horrific car crash in National Park on July 11.
His four friends, who had all just finished a game of soccer, were killed when the car they were in overtook another vehicle and collided with a truck near Ohakune.
Blake was taken to Waikato Hospital where he has remained for more than three weeks.
He was discharged this morning and was returning home today with his father Eric and girlfriend Macarena.
Eric, a doctor, arrived in New Zealand three days after the accident. In a moving statement, he thanked all of the people who have cared for his son, and particularly the team that rescued him.
"Thank you to that other team, the team that rescued Benjamin underneath the distorted irons of the crashed car," he said.
"Thank you to all the friends they made during this time: New Zealanders, Irish, Spanish, Australians, Chileans, and of course, Argentinians.
"Thank you to the team that played that last soccer game against my son Benjamin's team and his friends Agustin, German, Nicolas and Luciano, and shared with them their last joyful moments.
"My family and I, will never end in our hearts of saying thank you to you all, who were part of Benjamin and Macarena's stay in New Zealand and the returning to life of my son Benjamin."
Blake suffered multiple fractures and has had multiple operations since the accident.
"I have many difficulties facing me still, but I am improving quickly thanks to the care received at the hospital. I am very grateful to the doctors, as well as the many nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapist, registered dietician and all those who have relieved my pain and made possible my recovery," he said in a statement.
He said the last thing he remembered of that night was giant lights in his eyes.
"I have no memory of shouting and none of it... after a long silence (for me), I start to hear the loud sound of a helicopter and many screams of people from some organisation. I do not remember anything I saw and I could not feel my body.
"A few hours later I woke up in a bed and four people looked at me from above and asked me questions; I did not understand anything. Little by little I was narrating what happened, and still poorly understood. After a few hours my girlfriend Macarena enters the room, hugged me, and we cried. She explained to me what had happened and that my four friends had died."
His four friends were Agustin Donofrio, 25, German Caceres, 35, Nicolas Ursic, 27, and Luciano Pucheta, 19.
Along with Blake, they were all living in the Mt Ruapehu area and working on the ski fields.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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