Crash fire saviours hailed as heroes

By Murray Robertson of the Gisborne Herald

Charlie Pyke, left, and Will Te Kira. Photo / Gisborne Herald
Charlie Pyke, left, and Will Te Kira. Photo / Gisborne Herald

Two men who saved a Gisborne man from a blazing car south of Gisborne last week are in line for bravery awards for their heroic actions.

Two passing Gisborne men saved the life of 74-year-old Charlie Pyke on Wednesday when the car he was driving on a delivery run crashed and caught fire in the Wharerata Hills.

Mr Pyke was in no doubt they saved him from "being fried" and wanted to contact the men to thank them.

He was rescued by Will Te Kira with the help of Brett Papworth, both of Gisborne.

Mr Pyke has caught up with Mr Te Kira and plans to make contact with Mr Papworth.

"What those two men did went above and beyond the call, and they produced something amazing," said district police commander Inspector Sam Aberahama.

Police would continue to gather more detail about their efforts, and serious consideration would be given to bravery awards, he said.

"We could so easily have been going to a funeral but now we are celebrating the great work of a couple of good blokes who wanted to help, and stopped to do it."

Mr Papworth said this morning he felt Mr Te Kira should be the one to get recognition.

"He was absolutely brilliant.

"He was the first one there and got Mr Pyke out of the car," Mr Papworth said.

"He is the real hero."

Mr Te Kira works for Professional Fleet Maintenance.

He was returning to Gisborne from a job in Wairoa when he was the first on the accident scene.

"I could see this white smoke billowing into the air ahead of me and initially thought it might have been thermal activity.

"I stopped, got out and yelled - and heard a man's voice reply."

Mr Te Kira said he could not see all of Mr Pyke's car, because it was buried in blackberry bushes, but he saw his face looking out the front passenger side window.

"I flagged down another passing driver and when I could see he was stopping, I ran down the steep bank to Charlie's car."

When he reached it, the car was smoking and on its side.

"It looked unstable, so I rocked it a bit and realised it would roll on to me if I was not careful.

"I called to Charlie to grab my hand, then I heard the whoosh of the flames starting and that made me go harder.

"I grabbed him and started to haul him through the passenger window. One of his feet got stuck, so I had to lower him back in a bit to dislodge the foot.

"He was almost out of the car and I told him to jump on to me, which he did, and we ended up on the ground."

Mr Te Kira said he tried to lift Mr Pyke but he was heavy, then he heard another man who had arrived on the edge of the road yell "get out of there".

The car was well alight by that stage and the two men were only a few metres from it.

"That guy joined us then together we dragged him up the bank, with Charlie grabbing and pulling on the blackberry bushes with his bare hands to help us."

Major explosions started then, with more as they got up to the road, Mr Te Kira said.

Other passersby had stopped, among them two doctors. They attended to Mr Pyke before emergency services arrived.

"At the end of the day it was about a man who needed a hand and I just didn't stop to think about it, Mr Te Kira said.

"When I was alongside the car, it did occur to me briefly that I could get hurt. But I kept going to help Charlie."

Mr Te Kira said the arrival of Mr Papworth made the difference.

"He knew I was knackered without his help.

"We gave each other a big hug and a handshake up on the road afterwards."

Mr Te Kira said it was not until he got home to his family that the enormity of what had happened struck home.

"My nine-year-old daughter Mahalia gave me a big hug and a kiss and that's when it hit me - just how close it had been.

"I never thought about how my family would have felt if it had gone bad."

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