Father of two dies in freak accident

By Jamie Morton


A freak accident that left a popular Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchardist with a 15cm bolt lodged in his head has bewildered his family, doctors and investigators.

Tauranga father-of-two Andrew Clink, a qualified mechanic described as careful and experienced with machinery, was found unconscious beside part of an orchard sprayer in his workshed on Wednesday afternoon.

The 53-year-old's family have speculated that, as he was standing over the machine to repair it, a bolt flew from it and into his skull.

His wife, Sandi, said the bolt was not discovered until a scan at Tauranga Hospital, where Mr Clink later died.

Mr Clink had spent the day driving between his Ohauiti orchard and his father-in-law Vernon Pain's orchard in Te Puke, and had also had a dentist's appointment before he arrived back home for lunch with his wife.

He was thought to have been repairing the clutch on the sprayer when he was struck at some point between 3pm and 5pm.

"He was going to meet a colleague at 5pm and, lately, he had been really good at making sure he was on time ... but he didn't arrive at 20 past or so, so I told him [the colleague] to shoot down to the shed and let Andrew know that you're there," she said.

"Soon after that, he rang out and said: 'You need to call 111. Andrew's had a serious accident, he's unconscious on the floor and he's bleeding from the head'."

Mrs Clink, a former St John Ambulance officer, instantly knew her husband, found on the ground surrounded by tools, was in a critical condition - but assumed he had split his head open.

"A nurse did say he had not recovered in any way, which was unusual for a head injury, and she knew he was in very deep trouble. Then she came back after the scan and said 'we are totally and utterly stunned ... and you're not going to believe what we've just seen'."

The bolt, clearly visible on X-rays, was lodged deep in the base of the skull.

Mrs Clink said her husband had been a highly professional mechanic and she regarded the tragedy as a "one-in-a-million accident".

Department of Labour investigators were just as baffled and a report is being compiled.

Mr Clink's family all agreed that he had died doing something he loved.

Kenneth Clink said as a young man his brother would fix motorcycle parts long into the night.

"He had this knowledge where he could fix anything because he knew what was wrong straightaway."

Mrs Clink met her husband when she left her car at a garage where he was working.

Smiling as she remembered Mr Clink's cheeky sense of humour, she said: "He slid a piece of paper over and said 'write your number on it'.

"He was a loveable rogue ... he was 100 men in one."

Mr Clink had joined his wife's father in the kiwifruit industry after losing his job as a mechanic. The men became business partners with multiple properties across the Western Bay of Plenty.

"He wasn't a true orchardist ... he wasn't a vine man ... but he loved what it gave him, and it gave him a big shed with lots of toys."

A keen motorcyclist who loved his BMW, Kenneth Clink said his brother once rode from Tauranga to Auckland simply for a hamburger.

A large turnout is expected at his funeral service on Monday - although his father-in-law questioned whether Mr Clink would have wanted such a fuss.

Mr Pain said: "He never pushed himself forward ... in a social atmosphere.

"He'd tend to be in the background doing his own thing, not in the front making a big show of himself."

Mrs Clink said: "We are feeling a little bit embarrassed because we are making him out to be this big hero, which everybody wants to do when somebody dies, but the reality is that he actually was."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 02 Oct 2014 15:34:48 Processing Time: 1001ms