Teacher cannot remember crash

By Abigail Hartevelt


A teacher injured in a crash in Kenya which killed three New Zealanders has no memory of the crash.

Gemma Tong, a teacher at Rotorua's Chapman College, was among a group of 19 Kiwi volunteers who had gone to Kenya as part of a missions trip organised by Bethlehem College.

Their minivan rolled in heavy rain and ended up in a ditch on Tuesday night, killing Tauranga couple Brian and Grace Johnston, former Bethlehem College student Caitlin Dickson and their Kenyan driver.

Ms Tong's arm was broken in several places.

Chapman College principal Graham Preston said the 25-year-old spoke to her Tauranga-based parents on Wednesday night.

"Gemma has no memory of the accident and is in quite a bit of pain.

"Her last quip to her father was 'Tell Graham that I'm going to be off for a term'."

He said Ms Tong was very much part of his family.

Mr Preston's granddaughter Amy Bell, 17, who was also in the van and escaped with little injury, had spoken to her parents and told them she could not understand why her life was spared as she was sitting in the middle of the van.

Mr Preston said he was still feeling a bit numb.

"What do you say? ... It's very, very difficult and very sad for all those who survived and those who have lost."

Mr Preston said he was relying on his Christian faith to get him through.

"Faith is the opportunity for God to arrive and he does."

He praised the New Zealand Government, New Zealand's High Commission in South Africa and Egypt, which was sending deputy high commissioners to Kenya, and the travel agency which had sent a staff member to Kenya to get the group back to New Zealand.

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