Heart attack claims school shuttle man

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2014
burnt out van
DANIEL TOBIN/FAIRFAX NZ

UNTIMELY: Passers by pulled Ashburton 68-year-old Michael Sheahan from his van moments before it became engulfed in flames on State Highway 1. He had suffered a massive heart attack and could not be revived.

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Michael Sheahan had just dropped off a group of children to school in Christchurch when he suffered a massive heart attack at the wheel of his van.

The Ashburton man spent the last moments of his life attempting to protect other drivers by pulling his vehicle off the road, a move his family says was a true testament to his boundless compassion for others.

The 68-year-old was killed when the van he was driving home to Ashburton crashed into a ditch on State Highway 1 on Tuesday.

Passersby pulled him from his van just before it became engulfed in flames but were unable to revive him.

Brian Sheahan said he and his brother shared a "very close" relationship and used to talk on the phone up to three times a week.

He had lived a quiet life in Ashburton and was "a bit of a loner", but remained part of the community in his own way.

He ran a small shuttle business, transporting Ashburton children daily to and from schools in Christchurch and driving people to and from the airport.

He had just dropped off a group of children and was returning home when he suffered the heart attack that killed him, Brian Sheahan said.

Autopsy results delivered to the family yesterday morning confirmed Michael Sheahan had "had a massive heart attack" in the moments before his death.

"People that were following him saw the van weave in and out of traffic and cross the centre line, as he was trying to avoid people," Brian Sheahan said.

"He tried to do the right thing and get off the road without hitting anybody."

He was unmarried at the time of his death, but is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Brian Sheahan said his brother had refused to retire as he "loved" being at the helm of his business.

"He liked driving, he liked people and he liked children.

"He was quite involved with the school children and their little niggles."

Family members were making their way to Ashburton from the North Island.

Funeral arrangements had yet to be made.

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- The Press

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