Devastated families want someone held accountable for Christchurch quake deaths

Police have narrowed their Christchurch earthquake probe to four sites where people died. They include the Canterbury ...
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Police have narrowed their Christchurch earthquake probe to four sites where people died. They include the Canterbury Television building.

Errol Hadfield is resigned to the fact no-one will be held accountable for the death of his daughter-in-law during the February 2011 earthquake.

Natasha Hadfield, a fish outlet owner in Stanmore Rd, died when a wall of the badly damaged shop next door collapsed on the roof of her premises. Customer Betty Dickson was also killed.

Errol Hadfield said it was "very disappointing" police had narrowed the number of earthquake-related sites they were investigating to four. 

Matti McEachen died trying to escape the tattoo parlour he worked in, Southern Ink.

Matti McEachen died trying to escape the tattoo parlour he worked in, Southern Ink.

"We hoped that at some stage someone would be held accountable. We understand the position of the police but we always thought the facts showed some real failures by many people," he said.

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"At least we have had the opportunity to bring all the facts of Natasha's death to public attention."

The facade of the second-hand bookshop in Riccarton Rd crumbled onto the street, killing bricklayer Ross Bush, 75. ...
CHRIS HILLOCK

The facade of the second-hand bookshop in Riccarton Rd crumbled onto the street, killing bricklayer Ross Bush, 75. Flowers were left in the driver's seat.

Pak Loke, the owner of the building next to Natasha Hadfield's premises, was notified before February 22, 2011, that his brick wall was badly cracked and in danger of collapse, which it did during the magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

"As a result our son lost his wife, a 2-year-old lost his mother, and a mother lost her only daughter. This is a case where simple common sense would have saved two lives," Errol Hadfield said.

The four sites still under investigation by police were the Canterbury Television (CTV) building on Madras St, Southern Ink Tattoo on Colombo St, St Christopher's Book Market at 7 Riccarton Rd and the Ballantynes car parking building in Lichfield St.

Ross Bush's family raised concerns about building inspections after the September 2010 earthquake.
SUPPLIED

Ross Bush's family raised concerns about building inspections after the September 2010 earthquake.

It meant police had dropped 21 sites from their criminal inquiry, including the fish and chip shop where Hadfield was killed.  

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Police Minister Judith Collins revealed the four sites in response to a written question from Labour MP Megan Woods on Wednesday.

The February 2011 earthquake killed 185 people, including 115 at the CTV building, 25 at the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building and 46 from unreinforced masonry collapses.

Linda Arnold died on Lichfield St after a concrete panel fell off the Ballantynes car park building.
SUPPLIED

Linda Arnold died on Lichfield St after a concrete panel fell off the Ballantynes car park building.

A royal commission report into the CTV collapse found the Christchurch City Council should not have granted a consent for the building, highlighted inadequacies in its construction and concluded the building should not have been green-stickered by the council after the September 2010 earthquake.

Tattooist Matthew McEachen was killed by falling masonry as he tried to flee Southern Ink's parlour during the February 2011 earthquake. 

The business continued to occupy the building after the September 2010 earthquake, despite it being yellow-stickered by the council, meaning it was too dangerous to occupy.

McEachen's father, Bruce, said he wanted those responsible for his son's death to be "held accountable for their actions".

He had a "great deal of sympathy" for police and the complexities of their "ground-breaking" investigation.

Bricklayer Henry Ross Bush, 75, known as Ross, died when his work vehicle was buried beneath a large amount of debris outside  St Christopher's Book Market. 

His family believed building inspections after the September 2010 earthquake were inadequate. Bush's son-in-law, David Stanley, said he was "extremely pleased" the site was still under investigation.

"It was shocking that it was almost swept under the carpet and I would expect nothing less than a criminal investigation."

Linda Arnold, 57, was sitting in her car outside the Ballantynes car park building when she was killed by a falling concrete panel. Structural engineer Dick Cusiel told a Royal Commission inquiry in 2012 the panel was not properly attached to the building.

On Thursday, Cusiel said he still took responsibility.

"I was responsible for the design so I don't want to blame anyone else."

He worried about what might happen with the investigation and whether he would be found criminally liable.

"[It's] entirely up to the powers at be."

Detective Superintendent Peter Read said "all the investigations are at different stages".

"I would anticipate the CTV would be the last [to be completed], because it's more complicated."

 - Stuff

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