Medals for two heroes who saved five lives between them

Chris Muller is congratulated by his father David after getting a bravery medal from the Royal Humane Society of New ...
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Muller is congratulated by his father David after getting a bravery medal from the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand. Chris pulled a woman out of a burning Havelock North house before firefighters arrived.

If the call had come in two minutes later, Chris Muller would not have heard it, and a woman would have died.

It was 11 at night and Muller, a volunteer firefighter, was off-duty, and recovering from a recent surgery.

On any other night he would have been asleep, but he heard the call and, when he saw the address was across the road in Havelock North, he and father David decided to take a look.

Gabrielle Evans, 17, left, remembers the moment she was pulled out of a crashed car by Murray Michie, who went on to ...
ROSS GIBLIN/ FAIRFAX NZ

Gabrielle Evans, 17, left, remembers the moment she was pulled out of a crashed car by Murray Michie, who went on to save her sisters Hannah, 16, and Hayley, 13, and mother Susan.

They arrived to find a building ablaze, and neighbours from surrounding flats assuring each other the owner had made it out. That would have satisfied most people.

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"I said, 'Well, where is she?' I was just about to turn and go when I heard a voice, from the back of the house somewhere," Muller said on Tuesday about the September 2014 incident.

Murray Michie, left, receives the Stanhope gold medal from Michael Webster, clerk of the executive council, for his ...
ROSS GIBLIN/ FAIRFAX NZ

Murray Michie, left, receives the Stanhope gold medal from Michael Webster, clerk of the executive council, for his bravery in rescuing the Evans family.

He began crawling, down the corridor and around two corners, every turn an opportunity to turn back, but said he just kept thinking: I'll just check the next room.

He found the woman at the end of the hall, a dark shape discernible only by the orange glow of her burning kitchen.

"I was just dragging her, so I probably bumped her head on the doorstep, I feel a bit bad for that," Muller said. 

The crash on State Highway 3 near Sanson in which Susan Evans' vehicle, which was towing a horse float, exploded.
RICHARD COLBAN

The crash on State Highway 3 near Sanson in which Susan Evans' vehicle, which was towing a horse float, exploded.

Meanwhile, David Muller had left to direct the fire engines. He returned to find his soot-covered son holding a semi-conscious woman on the flat's front porch.

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On Tuesday, he was at Government House in Wellington to see his son receive a Royal Humane Society of New Zealand silver medal for bravery.

"I said, 'Well done – but don't ever do it again'," David said.

A Stanhope gold medal, the first awarded to a Kiwi since 1968, was also presented at the ceremony.

Bulls resident Murray Michie received the award for the dramatic rescue of Susan Evans and her three daughters after a high-speed crash in Manawatu.

The Evans family were at the ceremony to applaud, as Michie's actions in mid-2015 were recounted.

A Mitsubishi Diamante, doing 150kmh and travelling on the wrong side of the road, struck the Evanses' vehicle, causing it and the horse float it was towing to jack-knife and flip.

For Evans, the memory of the incident has gone, but 17-year-old daughter Gabrielle remembers it vividly.

"I remember this crash, a crunch, and then opening my eyes to see a fence post in the car. Then I could hear screaming, and I was trying to get my seatbelt undone," she said.

"I looked over and Mum was wedged under the seat. I couldn't see her face, but her hands were just limp.

"Then I realised there were flames coming through where the steering wheel was. That's what really freaked me out."

She was the first out of the vehicle, escaping after Michie smashed the back window.

"I just saw this big figure by the boot door, yelling to get the fire extinguisher, and then him pulling me out. Then he was in there getting Hannah out, and Hayley. There was smoke everywhere."

"We kept screaming that Mum was still in the car."

Mitchie had to cut Evans' seatbelt to get her out, and the pair were barely  3 metres clear when the car exploded.

Evans said words could not express the gratitude she felt to all those who took part in her family's rescue.

 - Stuff

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