Nurse comforts dying woman

03:39, May 02 2014
Police Senior Sergeant Matt Prendergast
Police at the place where two people were run over yesterday.

Police have identified the New Plymouth couple killed as they crossed the highway at Tongaporutu yesterday.

They are Joan and Robert Murch aged 78 and 83 respectively.

The police serious crash unit were at the site on the corner of Clifford Rd and State Highway 3 today.

The couple died at the scene after they were hit by a car travelling towards New Plymouth at about 2.15pm Waitara.

Police Senior Sergeant Matt Prendergast asked for those first on the scene to contact police to assist with the ongoing inquiry.

It is believed there were no witnesses.

State Highway 3 accident
TRAGIC SCENE: Tragic scene: Traffic is backed up at Tongaporutu after a man and a woman were struck by a car and killed as they crossed State Highway 3.


Nurse comforts dying woman

Prayers and three off-duty emergency staff weren't enough to save an elderly couple killed crossing the highway in Taranaki yesterday.


The couple, from New Plymouth, were hit by a car driven by a German man travelling south while they walked across State Highway 3 near the Tongaporutu bridge at 2.15pm.

Their deaths bring the toll on Taranaki roads this year to four.

Off-duty nurse Linda Webby was one of the first people on the scene.

The couple were still alive when Webby arrived, and she was comforting and trying to help the woman when she died a short time later.

"I did pray for both of them. It was the only thing I felt I could do for them. It's what I would like someone to do for my family," she said.

She said the couple, who were believed to have been staying at their daughter and son-in-law's bach in the tiny settlement of Tongaporutu, 67 kilometres north of New Plymouth, had been thrown metres apartby the impact of the collision.

They died at exactly the same time, she said. "I didn't see any great signs of suffering and I think they did go together."

She said she hoped it would be some comfort to the family that they did not die alone.

Webby was also not alone at the scene of the crash.

She said an off-duty emergency department doctor took charge and she and an off-duty police officer assisted.

"All we could do was try to stabilise their airways."

The off-duty ad hoc emergency crew was soon replaced by police, fire and ambulance services from New Plymouth and Mokau and the Taranaki community rescue helicopter was sent to the scene.

They were all too late to help.

Constable Rob Keen, of the Highway Patrol, said the driver had been travelling towards New Plymouth when he hit the couple.

The road was closed for several hours while police secured the scene and began an examination.

The deaths were referred to the coroner.

Webby, a mental health nurse from Te Kuiti, she she had volunteered to look after the young male driver while he waited for friends from Auckland to arrive and pick him up.

The man's silver sedan had a dent in the bonnet and was parked near the bodies.

Webby said the man was shattered and shaken by the incident.

"It's just not something you expect to happen when you're driving down the highway."

Taranaki Daily News