Rescuers thanked in wake of horror crash
When Nelson man Daniel Nathan came face to face with his rescuers it was a happier time than when they first met.
Back on the night of August 1, Mr Nathan and fellow Downer worker Johnny Bell were trapped in their crushed truck when Argentinian tourists in a campervan on the wrong side of the road drove into them near Murchison.
Since then the two men have been recovering from their injuries but on Friday night they returned to Murchison, so Downer could thank the emergency workers who helped save them.
For Mr Nathan, the barbecue function at the Murchison fire station, with more than 80 firefighters, ambulance crew, nurses, Downer staff and others from the community, was a momentous occasion. He has been in hospital ever since the crash but his doctors allowed him out for the night.
"It was good, I really enjoyed it," he said, back in his Nelson Hospital bed this morning.
Murchison fire chief Paul Wilkins said the volunteer firefighters rarely got to meet those they helped in emergencies, though occasionally received a thank you letter, so had appreciated the function.
"It was a pretty horrific crash. They had a lot of trouble getting to Daniel because the vehicles were stuck together, there just wasn't the room to work the gear.
"They pulled the vehicles apart with a tractor and used jaws of life and hydraulic lifting.
"Daniel was really close to not being here. It was good to see him."
Josh Penman, a road worker who was on his way home from rugby practice when he came across the crash, said he had rated Mr Nathan's chances at 50-50.
"He had cuts and blood on his face and from midway his rib cage was very much squished and crushed and he was trapped."
He stayed with the pair, encouraging Mr Bell to talk to Mr Nathan to keep him going.
At the function, a grateful Mr Nathan thanked those who came to their aid.
Mr Wilkins said he was blown away with the mountain of safety gear Downer gave the fire brigade as well as a $300 cheque. "It's really, really appreciated," said Mr Wilkins.
The company also gave St John Ambulance $500.
Downer surfacing manager Andy Dyson said: "We just decided to do it. The stories came back that if it weren't for the local people, Daniel would not have survived.
"It was quite moving. We wanted to put something back."
Mr Nathan, who two weeks ago had a bone and marrow graft off his pelvis to help his left leg mend, will have an X-ray on Friday to assess how it is doing.
He suffered injuries to both legs, his pelvis, left arm and an eye. He hopes to find out in the next month whether he can go home but knows that until he can bear weight he will have to be patient.
- © Fairfax NZ News