Tip Top man comforts girl hit by car in Whangamata
A young Auckland girl was celebrating her 11th birthday when she was hit by a car driven by a learner driver and dragged 10 metres.
The incident happened at the New World carpark in the holiday hotspot of Whangamata on Wednesday.
The young girl asked a stranger who was holding her hand if she was dead, as they waited for emergency services.
David Rowe, a Tip Top ice cream contractor, was driving past when he noticed a car lodged in a garden and people screaming.
He parked in the middle of the street and ran over where he was told a young girl had been hit by a car and was trapped.
"I was scrambling around underneath the car and I could feel her, she was stuck right underneath the car in the middle," he said.
"She wasn't talking and she wasn't moving. She was pinned underneath.
"I ran around the other side of the car but I couldn't get her out, then more and more people started turning up, so we grabbed hold of the driver's side of the car, about six or seven of us, and we lifted it up and yelled for someone to pull her out from underneath."
The little girl was laid on the footpath, her head being cradled by her uncle. Rowe held her hand and talked to her.
"I sat there talking to her and holding her hand and she was saying 'Am I dead? Am I dead?' and we were saying, 'no you're not dead, you're ok'. Then she was asking for her brother, 'where's my brother?' Because he was on the scooter with her when they were on the footpath and we said, 'your brother's ok'."
"That's when she told me 'it's my birthday today - I'm 11. This is the worst birthday ever'. It was really, really sad."
Rowe said the little girl didn't scream or moan. She was alert, despite the injuries she received.
"She had lacerations and grazes down her face, it looked like she had one broken tooth, her mouth was bleeding, her arm was cut. She kept trying to pull her t-shirt up because her whole stomach was grazed because she got dragged more than 10 metres under the car before it come to a stop."
The young female driver was learning to park in the New World carpark when she accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, police said on Te Awamutu's Police Facebook page.
At the same time, four young children were riding past along the footpath on their scooters.
"The car has mounted the footpath and taken the little girl with her and under the car," police said.
Rowe said the driver and her mother were both distraught.
"[The driver] definitely looked quite young. Her and her mother looked quite distraught. The driver was crying saying 'oh my god, oh my god, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it'. It was all adding to the hysteria of the moment," he said.
"The mum tried to go over to the uncle to apologise but, his concern was trying to cradle his niece's head. It wasn't as if anybody was drunk, or they were doing stupid things. It was just inexperience, the wrong thing at the wrong time."
Rowe said the young girl's parents arrived and went in the ambulance with her to the hospital. His work wasn't done though, he went back to his truck and got the remaining children an ice cream to comfort them.
"Her uncle thanked me very much. We had to leave because our truck was blocking the road. I'm very happy the young girl is ok."
The 11-year-old girl was taken to Thames hospital accompanied by her mother and father.
A hospital spokesperson said the young girl was in a stable condition and was due for release on Wednesday.