Missing plane: 'Miss you already' - Lost Kiwi's last text

By Andrew Koubaridis

Missing New Zealander Paul Weeks with wife Danica.
Missing New Zealander Paul Weeks with wife Danica.

Prime Minister John Key says it's unfortunate the wife of a New Zealand man missing aboard Flight 370 first heard about plane's disappearance from a journalist.

The 38-year-old Paul Weeks had just left Danica Weeks and sons Lincoln, 3, and Jack, 11 months, in their adopted home of Perth while he headed to Mongolia to start work as a mechanical engineer.

Just before he boarded flight MH370, he sent a text to his wife saying she and their children meant the world to him.

Do you know anyone who was on the plane? Email us here.

Read more of the Herald's Flight 370 coverage today:
Flight 370: Object spotted in water
Missing plane: focus on four suspicious flyers
'Something sudden' - Experts weigh eight theories

Mrs Weeks received the text while he was waiting in Kuala Lumpur for the connecting flight to Beijing.

"It just said he was missing us already - it was just a message to say he misses us and we were his world.

"It was his dream job and he was off for 28 days for the first time, with an 11-month-old and 3-year-old. So he was going to miss us all and he was telling us he loved us."

A devastated Mrs Weeks managed to get only an hour's sleep at the weekend after discovering her husband's plane was missing.

"I'd hoped there would be news, that they would have something. We're just going through the motions now, minute by minute."

She was frustrated by the lack of detail from authorities. "We've been told nothing, just told nothing. You know as much as we do. [Malaysia Airlines] don't know. They have nothing to tell because they don't know. They have no idea - or if they do they're not telling us a thing."
It was baffling how an enormous plane could just disappear. "It sounds crazy. You can find someone floating in the ocean but you can't find a plane. It's crazy, just crazy."

Mrs Weeks tried not to think about what could have caused the plane to go missing.

"Hopefully it was catastrophic and it just happened quickly.

"I think like everybody I just want to know what happened so I can process that information and start life.
"If it is the worst-case scenario, I have two young sons who won't have a father. I will have to be mother and father for them for the rest of their lives."

Older son Lincoln had already been asking for his dad, who had missed a planned Skype session.

"He has a map on his wall of where Daddy is - or was going to be - so for him it's, 'Where's Daddy?' He's wondering why I'm crying, why I'm upset, why hasn't Daddy Skyped."

Mrs Weeks said she and her husband had a car accident in late December that frightened them into discussing what they would do if one of them was to die suddenly.

"It made us sit down and talk through if the worst happened, which we'd never done before, what was each other's wishes.

"I can only take that and say thank God we talked about it because otherwise I'd be none the wiser. I now know what he wants me to do for the boys and I have to fulfil that."

Malaysia Airlines had offered to fly the family to Kuala Lumpur to wait for news but she refused.

"I can't go with two kids. The last thing I want to do is put my kids on a plane after losing their father.

"I'm just waiting to hear, I know they're out there searching."

Mr Weeks' mother, brother and niece had left Perth before they heard the news, to fly to Christchurch for his sister Sara Weeks' 40th birthday next week.

Last night Sara said: "It's the lack of knowing that is really hard. We're upset because we know something has gone wrong."

She said her brother was a "fantastic, wonderful man who will be missed. Terribly".

Key's concerns over notification process

Mr Key said this morning it was inappropriate that Mrs Weeks found out the plane was missing from local media as opposed to hearing first from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

"I was advised was that Interpol did try to ring Mrs Weeks, I think they either left a message or they certainly rang,'' he told TVNZ.

"She was out for a walk and didn't answer the phone, so what tragically happened was truly awful, but ultimately a journalist got there first.''

Due to the reality of modern-day journalism and the ferocious appetite from journalists to have the best and latest information, government authorities were almost left competing with the media, Mr Key said.

"One of the reasons we don't release names is because we want to control making sure that we - being the authorities - can speak to the next of kin first.

"These are horrendous situations. You're talking about somebody whose husband was on a plane that's missing, feared, at that point, dead.''

It would have been far more appropriate for the news to have come from officials, Mr Key said.

No reason to fear flying

An Auckland psychologist who helps people with a fear of flying has been receiving messages from people alarmed over the Malaysian Airlines disaster.

Grant Amos runs Flying Without Fear, a programme that helps travellers anxious about flying.

"I've had emails from people who say 'I've always had a problem with flying but this aircraft accident is the final straw and I'm flying at such and such time and I need to do something about it'."

Despite people's fears of being in an aircraft crash the chances of it happening were remote. He said last year there were 11 commercial plane crashes with fewer than 300 people killed worldwide - out of total of 36 million flights, involving 3.8 billion people.

Mr Amos said: "People who do my course think they could be unlucky and die in a plane crash and I point out that they're just not that lucky.

"That was because of the odds stacked against it."


* Don't take the family to the airport. You don't need an emotional goodbye scene. Do that at home so you can start to detach and get on with the business of being a passenger.

* Put things in proportion. The most dangerous part of the trip is driving to the airport.

Source: Grant Amos.

- NZ Herald

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