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Station mural recalls dramatic rescue

By Mathew Dearnaley

Constable Aji Basra assisted this intoxicated man off the tracks at a rail underpass in Auckland in 2007. Photo / NZ Police
Constable Aji Basra assisted this intoxicated man off the tracks at a rail underpass in Auckland in 2007. Photo / NZ Police

Police officer Aji Basra was just a year on the job when called to rescue an intoxicated man from rail tracks just before a train was due at Manurewa.

The man was passed out on the tracks, an empty wine cask beside him, when Constable Basra and his partner lifted him up and quick-marched him to safety.

"We were told a train was due so rushed up there and saw he was clearly 'trolleyed'," the young officer recalled yesterday.

"We had to get him off the tracks and as we were putting him into our car, the train came through."

That was in 2007, when he was 22, and now his brave "all-in-a-day's work" actions have been captured in a striking two-piece mural at Kingsland Station by graffiti artist Otis Frizzell to raise awareness of rail safety and promote police recruitment.

Born in New Zealand of Indian descent, Constable Basra was an ideal candidate to highlight police efforts to include people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds in their target of recruiting between 160 and 240 more frontline staff between now and June.

He told the Herald he and his police partner had no time to think of their own safety when going to the drunk man's rescue. "We deal with so many jobs and that kind of goes out the door when you're dealing with a high-intensity situation like that - it's about getting the job done."

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn, whose organisation was involved in the art project with Auckland Transport and passenger train operator Veolia, said the aim was to get across the message "that people need to use their heads around tracks".

He said 147 pedestrians had died on railway tracks since 2000, all of them needlessly. "Every single death or injury on the railway network is avoidable if people approaching it actively recognise the hazards that exist ..."

- NZ Herald

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