Police commend teenagers who comforted toddler in fatal crash
They sat on the concrete kerb singing nursery rhymes and pointing to the lights on the fire truck.
For sisters Atlanta and Meadow Jackson it was the best way they knew to comfort a shocked two-year-old boy they had pulled from a fatal car crash on a Hamilton city bridge.
Metres away on Anzac Parade, paramedics worked desperately to try and revive the boy's grandfather, later named as Ambrose Hughes.
"It was just instinct to go and help – there was no question about it," said 17-year-old Atlanta, who comes from a family of 12 children.
The two Fairfield College students had been helping to fundraise at the annual 'drop your boss' event at the Deloitte building in Hamilton on April 8.
Just after 2pm, they heard a smash on nearby Anzac bridge.
"We turned around and the bus was parked up on the side of the street and the car was smashed on the bridge," said Atlanta.
"I ran to the bus to make sure everyone was OK and Meadow ran to get people water."
The driver, Hughes, was heading home to Melville with his grandson from the Pacific heritage Nesian Festival when he drifted into the path of an oncoming bus.
Police are awaiting the results of a post-mortem, but believe a medical event may have caused Hughes to crash.
"When I got to the car the grandfather was unconscious and I didn't have any gloves, he was covered in blood so I couldn't touch him for my safety. I knew the paramedic was coming so I went to the back to find Matthew."
Being a St John first responder cadet, Atlanta put her skills into practise, checking the toddler's vital signs and respiratory rate.
"He was just in shock, sitting there wondering what was going on," Meadow said.
Together the girls sat with the toddler on the footpath until the ambulance arrived, managing to get a smile out of him.
"We took him away from the car because the firefighters needed to get Ambrose out of the car."
"I think we said look at the fire trucks, look at the flashing lights, just something the two year old would want to hear."
When it came time to break the news to the grandfather's next of kin, the Jackson girls accompanied police to the family home in Melville.
"It was tough to watch."
"I have never been in a situation like that before so it was uncomfortable, just unreal," Meadow said.
Hughes daughter, Alfreda Chong, was home alone with her children when the police cars pulled up outside.
"I thought Matthew had just got lost at the grounds so I didn't think anything of it, until the police said he had been in a serious car accident," said Chong.
"I think I was in shock and I had my baby who is seven months – Atlanta took him and changed his nappy and everything."
She said her father and son were inseparable. Everywhere Ambrose went Matthew was not far behind. The two-year-old was named after his softly spoken grandfather, who was an avid Chiefs supporter and former member of the Fijian Army.
Both Chong and her mother Vula wanted to thank both girls.
"It wasn't their duty, but they did it. It must have been hard for them, consoling me as well.
"We just want to thank them for their kindness."
Waikato police Senior Sergeant Pete van de Wetering, who attended the crash scene, said the girls' actions was "outstanding".
"When I arrived I saw them sitting on the side caring for this child. They were quick to see we as police needed help in providing immediate care for the grandchild, they were quick to offer themselves, which was ideal.
"The girls kept themselves calm and focused on caring for the wee child so he didn't get any more distressed than he was."
It was clear the girls struck up a rapport with the boy, van de Wetering said, and police asked if they would like to accompany him to his mother's home.
"The intention of asking the girls to assist was for the benefit of the grandchild - they were willing to come."
"They carried themselves with dignity and care by bringing the child into the house. An outstanding example of two model citizens."
Although the experience had been tough, Atlanta had been inspired to further her St John training and impel a career in paramedics and nursing.
"For anyone with no training I would suggest getting a first aid certificate – you never know what could happen."