Friends devastated by barman's death

POPULAR BARMAN: Joshua John Burgess, 23, died in a car crash this morning.
POPULAR BARMAN: Joshua John Burgess, 23, died in a car crash this morning.

A Christchurch barman killed in a crash in Mt Pleasant was ''the passion behind the bar'', his employer says.

Joshua John Burgess, 27, died after crashing his car into a power pole in Main Rd, Mt Pleasant, near The Brae, about 3.10am today.

Burgess, a barman at Winnie Bagoes in Ferrymead, had locked up for the night and was believed to have left about 12.30am.

Police are still putting the pieces together about what happened leading up to the crash.

Acting road policing manager Inspector Doug Parker said Burgess was heading west and lost control of his car at a slight bend and hit the power pole.

Parker said speed was a factor.

"The impact and the way the car has wrapped itself around the pole tells us that he was definitely going at high speeds," he said.

Skid marks were visible at the scene today.

Winnie Bagoes owner Mike Knowles said Burgess was ''no hoon'' and had ''great stuff happening'' before his death.

Burgess started working at Winnie Bagoes six months ago and quickly became the ''right-hand man'' for the bar manager.

He was passionate about his work, having just updated the bar's cocktail list.

He recently won the Christchurch round of the 42Below Cocktail World Cup competition with his tobacco-infused vodka called Smoke on the Water.

''With people leaving because of the earthquakes, for hospitality it's been very difficult to find the right people for roles,'' Knowles said.

''He just fitted in with Winnies perfectly. He had that passion.

''He was very social. He had a great bunch of friends who use to come in and visit. He was the life behind our bar.''

Outside of work, he enjoyed rugby league and rock music, he said.

Co-owner Geoff Cavell said he was ''totally devastated'' by news of Burgess' death.

''He was talented and had a bright future with our company. In terms of franchising, he was that sort of ilk,'' he said.

Cavell has spoken to Burgess' family, who were travelling to Christchurch from Nelson and Auckland today, and they were ''shellshocked''.

A resident who lives near the crash scene said the road was in a "really poor condition" and anyone speeding along it could easily "get airborne".

A nearby resident said he heard a car "hooning along the road", followed by what he thought was a "thump".

The Press