Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Boxing Day crash: I held his hand and I said a quick prayer, and then I had to leave him

Daimon Sattrup. Photograph/Tararua Funeral Services Ltd
Daimon Sattrup. Photograph/Tararua Funeral Services Ltd

The last thing Phil Kilmister expected or wanted to see as he drove home from his family Christmas celebrations was a fatal crash.

But that is exactly what happened, and now he cannot get the image of the victim out of his mind.

Kilmister was driving home with his partner on State Highway 3 near Ashhurst at about 5.45pm on Boxing Day when they came across the crash.

He didn't know it at the time but 25-year-old Dannevirke man Daimon Sattrup was lying dead on the road after his motorbike collided with an oncoming ute.

Police are investigating the cause of the crash but after speaking to people who witnessed the incident at the scene, Kilmister understood Sattrup was not responsible.

Nineteen people were killed during the official holiday period which began at 4pm on Friday 23 December 2016 and ended 6am yesterday. The New Zealand Transport Agency confirmed that the 19 died as a result of 15 crashes.

The deaths included four drivers, six passengers, five motorcyclists and four pedestrians - and 15 of the 19 deaths occurred on the open road.

READ MORE:
Dannevirke man killed in Boxing Day crash
Tributes paid to motorcyclist killed fatal Boxing Day crash

Sattrup's death was the ninth.

"We lost one of the most amazing people that anyone would be lucky to have met and known," his aunt posted online.

Others spoke of Sattrup as being a "fine young man" a "precious soul" and a "real gentleman".

"Always ready with a smile, capable and a man of his word is how I will remember Daimon," a friend wrote.

"He had qualities that are too often missing in young people today. You will be sorely missed Daimon."

When Kilmister arrived at the crash scene he had no idea he was about to find the son, brother, nephew and friend dead.

Trained in first aid, Kilmister got out of the car and went straight into the carnage to see what he could do to help.

"I went to Daimon first and I checked his vital signs and realised he was gone," Kilmister told the Herald.

"I held his hand and I said a quick prayer, and then I had to leave him.

"I'm not a religious man, but it felt like the right thing to do."

Kilmister then went to the ute where a man was lying injured, and climbed inside to help.

Another woman was already inside, holding the injured man still until paramedics arrived.

"She was brilliant, marvellous - she was just talking to him and trying to keep him alive. I don't know if he was even concious, he was moaning and groaning.

"We just held him still to stop him moving and causing any more damage. There were engine fuels leaking around us but that woman wasn't scared, she just did a brilliant job."

When emergency services arrived the woman and Kilmister got out of the ute, and once he'd spoken to police he left with his partner.

Kilmister later posted a message to Sattrup's family on an online tribute.

"I just wanted to tell your family that I was on that bridge with you and let them know that you didn't suffer. I wish I could have helped you physically but it was not to be so I done the only thing I could for you, I held your hand and had karakia with you. May you rest in peace Daimon," he wrote.

Daimon Sattrup was killed in a road crash on Boxing Day. Photograph/Tararua Funeral Services Ltd
Daimon Sattrup was killed in a road crash on Boxing Day. Photograph/Tararua Funeral Services Ltd

He told the Herald that he initially wanted to send the Sattrup family a card, just to let them know that he had done everything he could for their boy, and to assure them he was not alone, or forgotten in the chaos of the crash.

"I just wanted to let them know, as a parent myself I would want to know that someone had been there," he explained.

The Boxing Day crash was not the first that Kilmister had been at, but it was the one that had the biggest impact and he wanted people to remember that fatals affected more than just the people directly involved.

"I just can't get his face out of my mind, I haven't been able to for ages," he said.

"The way he was lying there will stay in my mind for a long time, it's something you don't forget..."

Kilmister also wanted people to brush up on the basics of what to do if they came across an accident.

He said when he got to the scene there were about 12 people standing around.

Emergency services had been called but many people did not know what to do including stopping traffic from speeding past the wreckage.

He said several young people were upset and physically sick, and another man was smoking despite fuel leaking from the damaged vehciles.

He believed learning what to do at such a scene should be part of licence conditions.

Police said in general, most people were helpful at crash scenes and knew what to do while waiting for emergency services.

The holiday road toll - 10 years of tragedy, trauma and loss

• 2015/16: 12 people killed 367 injured
• 2014/15:16 people killed, 345 injured
• 2013/4: 7 people killed, 308 injured
• 2012/13: 6 people killed, 353 injured
• 2011/12: 19 people killed, 400 injured
• 2010/11: 12 people killed, 381 injured
• 2009/10: 13 people killed, 409 injured
• 2008/09: 25 people killed, 458 injured
• 2007/08: 18 people killed, 413 injured
• 2006/07: 9 people killed, 444 injured

Total for 10 years: 137 people killed, 3878 injured

What to do if you come across a crash

If you are first on the scene of a crash, your actions could help save the lives of the people involved in the crash and make it safer for other drivers coming upon the crash scene.

Here are some things you can do to help make the crash scene safer:

• Park your car in a safe spot, away from the crash area. Leave plenty of space for emergency vehicles to come and go, and for emergency workers to work in.
• Switch on your car's hazard warning lights.
• If possible, post other people or warning triangles on all approaches to the crash site to warn oncoming drivers. The people or triangles should be about 200 metres from the crash site to give approaching drivers time to slow down.
• If people are injured, call an ambulance as soon as possible.
• Following a crash, some airbags may not be deployed. If you need to enter a crashed vehicle, don't place yourself between any undeployed airbag and injured or trapped person. Undeployed airbags can deploy with force some minutes after a crash and could injure both the rescuer and injured/trapped person.
• If it is safe to do so, turn off the ignition of all vehicles involved in the crash.
• If any vehicle involved in the crash has a dangerous goods placard, follow the instructions below on crashes involving dangerous goods.
• If people have been injured in the crash, you should call an ambulance as soon as you can.

(Source: New Zealand Transport Agency)

Basic first aid tips

Before the ambulance arrives at a crash, there are some things you may be able to do to help them and some things you should be aware of, which are outlined in this section.

Ideally, you should enrol in a recognised first aid course so you can learn techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation under proper supervision. This will make you more confident and more capable of using first aid if you have to.

Try not to move injured people:

If a victim has spinal injuries, moving them may only worsen their injuries. You should never move a crash victim unless it is absolutely necessary.

The only instances where you should move someone before medical help arrives are when the person is trapped in a vehicle that is on fire or in danger of catching fire; it is necessary to move them to give CPR, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or stop severe bleeding.

Stopping severe bleeding:

If the patient is bleeding badly, you should try to stop or reduce the bleeding.

Raise the part of the body that is bleeding. This will take some of the blood away from the wound.

Apply pressure to the wound, preferably with thick, folded fabric, such as a towel or an item of clothing.

(Source: New Zealand Transport Agency)

- NZ Herald

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