Christchurch earthquake: Mother of two eager to thank rescuer

By Edward Gay

Kendyll Mitchell. Photo / Supplied
Kendyll Mitchell. Photo / Supplied

The mother of two pulled from the rubble of the collapsed Canterbury Television building is looking forward to meeting her rescuer.

Kendyll Mitchell was on the fifth floor with her two children, getting counselling for her 3-year-old son Jett, who had been anxious since the September quake. She also had her 11-month-old daughter Dita with her in a stroller.

Meanwhile, roofer James Askew was working on the CTV building and was 4m off the ground in a cherry picker when the 6.3 quake struck.

"As soon as the cinderblocks started falling, I jumped out," the 24-year-old said.

He and a colleague ran about 15 metres from the building and by the time he turned around, it was nothing but a pile of rubble enveloped in a dust cloud.

"It actually came down bloody quickly."

Mr Askew recalls a "dead silence" before hearing cries for help.

He ran up and began tossing roofing iron aside. Bystanders yelled at him to get off the destroyed building because they feared he would squash people trapped inside but Mr Askew ignored them and began uncovering survivors.

"People were trying to pull themselves out."

They were calling out, "We're alive, we're alive", from beneath the rubble, he said.

Other passersby began to help, forming a human chain to get the survivors out from under bits of concrete.

"There were people in there and I could help - I had to do my best."

Mr Askew does not consider himself a hero and said he could not be sure that he was the man who pulled Ms Mitchell free.

But he was willing to meet up with Ms Mitchell, who is recuperating with family in Timaru.

Ms Mitchell "definitely wants to meet up".

"I really would like to thank him," she said. "He got me and my kids out."

- NZ Herald

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