Crash victim's body heading home to Jordan

Iyad Abu Nahleh, of Jordan, was killed after his car collided with a sheep truck on State Highway 1 in Orari on Sunday.
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Iyad Abu Nahleh, of Jordan, was killed after his car collided with a sheep truck on State Highway 1 in Orari on Sunday.

A smiling and talkative friend is how Iyad Abu Nahleh, who died after a serious car crash in South Canterbury on Sunday, will be remembered.

Originally from Jordan, Abu Nahleh was living and working as a halal slaughterman at Lean Meats in Oamaru.

Abu Nahleh had just returned to New Zealand after visiting his family in Jordan for three weeks. 

He was driving south to Oamaru on State Highway 1 when his Honda collided with an Amuri Transport sheep truck in Orari.

His car was severely damaged and fire service crew had to extract him using the jaws of life. He suffered serious injuries in the crash and died on the way to Timaru Hospital.

Police inquiries into the crash are continuing and the death has been referred to the coroner.

In his late 30s, Abu Nahleh had moved to Oamaru from Auckland two years ago and had made many friends in the region.

Lean Meats manager Bruce McNaught said on Monday his death was a "shock".

Close friend and colleague David Taukolo often had Abu Nahleh come to his home and Taukolo's former partner, Rose Taukolo, said he was like "one of the family".

"Even though his family are in Jordan, we want them to know if they read this, Iyad was a member of our family," she said.

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Rose said he had been so excited about visiting his family, who he hadn't seen in years.

"A few weeks before he left, he came over and was asking about what toys he should take back for his nieces and nephews. He was so excited about seeing them again."

Rose described her friend as "shy at first".

"He was quite shy but once you got to know him he wouldn't stop talking. He always had a smile on his face and would enjoy a laugh."

Geraldine fire service chief fire officer Graeme Mould described the accident as "odd".

Mould said the car was torn apart like a sardine can.

"There was no side or roof," he said.

It is thought both vehicles were heading south on a straight section of road with two sets of passing lanes.

Amuri Transport managing director Peter Fiddes said his company was conducting an internal review into the crash.

Fiddes said the driver, who was now on leave, was experienced.

"It's a tragedy and we will conduct our own internal review, as well as offering professional support for our driver."

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) area manager Ali Al-Kawaji contacted Abu Nahleh's family with the news of his death and has been assisting with funeral arrangements.

"After talking with his brother, a decision was made to send his body home."

According to Al-Kawaji, the Jordanian government will fund the cost of returning his body to Amman.

The body would first be taken to a mosque in Christchurch on Wednesday or Thursday for traditional funeral prayers, before being flown back to Jordan, he said.

Al-Kawaji said Abu Nahleh was survived by his mother, father and two brothers.

Rose said it was likely a tribute would also take place in Oamaru for his friends and colleagues.

"He will be missed here. It's all so sad, but I am happy his body will be sent home." 

 - The Timaru Herald

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