Three men die in rural Southland crash
EVAN HARDING AND BRIDGET RAILTON
An early morning crash which claimed the lives of three Southland men has hit the small community hard as locals rally together for support.
Police have released the names of the men killed in the triple-fatality crash near Waikaia last night.
They were Christopher Martin Simpson, 39, Matthew James Kennedy McKee, 39, and Ewan Charles Christie, 59.
Waikaia Chief Fire Officer Ross Sage, who attended the scene, said the accident was one of the worst he'd attended in his 20-year career as CFO.
''We've been to fatals before but never a multiple situation like that where all occupants have passed away, normally we're able to help someone.''
He had worked through the night and into the early hours of the morning and the crew were exhausted, he said.
''It's all about the families now we're here to support them as much as we can.''
A Wendon farmer, who did not want to be named, said he knew all three men and they were all neighbours and sheep farmers in the Wendon area.
''They were all neighbours and buddies and friends and all helped each other out,'' he said.
"It's a shock, all three are gone in one foul swoop."
Waikaia ward councillor Brian Dillon said it was a terrible thing to happen in the area.
''The community will be in a state of shock as you understandably would be,'' he said.
A barmaid at the Waikaia hotel said everybody was distraught by the tragedy.
She referred further comments to the manager, who was unavailable.
A Waikaia man who had lived in the area for 75 years said it was a terrible thing to happen.
He knew the family of one of the dead men and they were a hell of a nice family, he said.
A Riversdale shop worker said it was a tragedy for the whole town.
Everybody was devastated they don't know how to cope.
All three families were well-known in the community, she said.
- The Southland Times