Truck driver faces charge after logging rig rolls

SEAMUS BOYER
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2012
Ponatahi Rd
Wairarapa News

BIG MESS: Crash investigators at the scene of a logging truck crash in Ponatahi Rd, east of Greytown, where driver Phillip Ferguson was seriously injured.

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He once stood his ground to end a mass killing spree - now Phillip Ferguson is bouncing back from breaking his neck in two places in a truck crash.

The 63-year-old truck driver managed to climb out of the crushed cab of his logging truck in May after it rolled at Ponatahi, east of Greytown.

He spent a week in hospital with multiple fractures and a punctured lung, and is still yet to be cleared to drive.

"I came out of the crash quite lightly, so I was pretty lucky," he said yesterday.

Two decades ago Mr Ferguson stood up to his son-in-law - Raymond Ratima - who attacked him with a softball bat after killing seven people in the Fergusons' Masterton home.

The crash two months ago left him with two fractured neck vertebrae, three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken thumb, for which he was still wearing a cast, he said.

"I was in hospital for one week, then they kicked me out, and then I went and stayed with my daughter who is a nurse."

On May 15, the rear trailer of Mr Ferguson's truck toppled over on a slope and clipped the roof of a passing car, with the truck then sliding across both lanes for 50 metres before flipping on its roof.

Yesterday he appeared in Masterton District Court charged with careless driving and intimated a guilty plea through his lawyer.

The maximum penalty is a $3000 fine.

The crash has not deterred Mr Ferguson from getting back behind the wheel. "As soon as I can, I'll be back driving," he said.

On June 26, 1992, Mr Ferguson had returned from a pub to his Judds Rd home, along with wife Rebecca "Tubby" Ferguson and daughter Toni, who was married to Ratima.

By then, Ratima had already used a bat, hammer and knife to kill four members of his wife's family, as well as his three sons, aged 6, 4, and 2, and an unborn child.

Ratima, then aged 25, planned to kill himself after committing one final atrocity, and had waited at the house for his wife and her parents to return.

He attacked his father-in-law Mr Ferguson with a softball bat but Mr Ferguson stood his ground, struggling with him while allowing his wife and daughter to escape.

When police arrived, they arrested both the blood-smeared men after finding them scuffling.

Ratima was sentenced to life imprisonment and remains in jail.

Yesterday, Mr Ferguson said he knew there was still interest in "all the old stuff" but said he preferred to focus on the present.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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