Father of drowned boy has tumour
A West Coast father whose son drowned when their vehicle flipped upside down in a pond crashed only because he has a brain tumour, his close friend says.
Mark Bowes' son Tayne, 9, drowned after the Toyota Hilux they were travelling in flipped upside down in a waist-deep mine pond about 12 kilometres south of Hokitika on August 12.
Tayne's 8-year-old sister, Keira, survived after spending nearly two hours in water in the submerged vehicle.
Barry Foster, who has known Bowes for over 25 years, told The Press his friend had a brain tumour, which he believed had caused the crash.
''There wouldn't have been an accident if he hadn't had this tumour. None of this would have happened. I know that 100 per cent,'' he said.
''When I heard about the accident I said to my wife, 'Mark must have had an epileptic fit or something. I knew something was wrong'.''
Foster said Bowes was in the car at the time of the accident, but could not remember anything that happened.
''He doesn't know what happened. He said the handbrake was on and we think he may have had a seizure and Tayne pulled it on. He desperately wants to know what happened, but he can't remember at all.''
After the accident Bowes was confused and ran from the scene before calling the police.
Keira was rescued by police officers.
''He ran at random until his feet were bleeding. He had no idea what he was doing," Foster said.
He believed both children could have been rescued if Bowes had been in his ''right mind''.
''He would have ripped the door off to save those kids - that's the kind of man he was. He was a strong guy and would have done anything to get to them. There's no way he would have run off."
There had been no signs of a tumour before the accident, but in the week after the tragedy Bowes could not stand up or speak properly, Foster said.
''For the whole week he ouldn't stand up and was slurring his words. At first we thought he may just have taken a hit on the head in the accident,'' he said.
Bowes went to see his doctor on the Coast, who referred him to Christchurch Hospital for a MRI scan.
''They found there was a tumour pressing on his brain. They operated to remove the tumour and he's going to start radiotherapy in October,'' Foster said.
''After the surgery I went to see him and he said he was going to see his little boy. He doesn't give a stuff about the tumour or want surgery; he just cares about the family he's left behind."
Foster said Bowes had faced unnecessary criticism from the public after the accident.
''Without the information, people have been drawing their own conclusions, as they did. I read something that compared him to the Kahui twins and I knew I had to say something. He is not a bad guy.''
Bowes could not move on from the loss of his son, Foster said.
''He's absolutely devastated, especially that he doesn't know exactly what happened,'' he said.
''I said to him it could have been much worse. He could have been driving down Arthur's Pass when this happened and hit a logging truck and the whole family could have died. It's a miracle Keira is still alive.''
It would be Tayne's birthday on Saturday and family and friends would gather on the West Coast for a rugby game as a tribute to the rugby-keen boy.
''We will all be there and try to move on from the accident, but it is tough on the whole family,'' Foster said.
Police said Bowes was unavailable for an interview in the tragedy's immediate aftermath, but they became aware he was unwell in hospital.
''We are not in a position to comment on his personal medical situation,'' Tasman police district spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said today.
However, Bowes' wife, Katrina, and daughter Keira had been interviewed about the incident.
''We have done all the other investigative work we can. Police are still hoping to interview [Bowes] at some point,'' Dunn said.