Sumner friends describe the Summerfields and Abi Hone as having plenty to live for.

The deaths of Sally Summerfield, her daughter Ella and Ella's friend Abi Hone have left a "big, dark hole" in the tight-knit Sumner community, friends say.

They were killed in a road smash near Rakaia on Saturday. Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane Summerfield, who was driving, is recovering in Christchurch Hospital.

Dutch tourist Johannes Jacobus Appelman has been charged with careless driving causing death in relation to the incident.

A close family friend and colleague said Mr Summerfield was conscious and recovering.


"He is getting better. And he is very aware. He should make a full physical recovery," said Wyn Mossman.

Mr Mossman said the tragedy had torn a hole in the community, and the Summerfield family were in shock, particularly 16-year-old Sam, who has lost his mother and sister.

"Sam is pretty stunned. No mum, no sister, father in intensive care," Mr Mossman said. "They were just great people from great families. They had an enormous lot to live for.

"Abi was a gorgeous girl with a great sense of humour. Ella was a particularly good athlete. Sally was very creative."

Mr Mossman said family friends, who had been displaced by the earthquakes, were coming back from as far away as France and Canada to pay their respects.

"They leave a big, dark hole. They were special people."

The families were planning separate funerals, likely to be next week, but details were not yet finalised, he said.

Rachel Thornton, Sally's close friend and business partner, described her as a nature-lover, entrepreneur, and keen blogger who loved food, flowers and gatherings.


Together the friends managed Carousel Flora Design, which had a shop in Lyttelton. Their business was based on the idea of showing the beauty of Christchurch.

"The whole concept of her blog was gathering. Going out to the hillsides and gathering flowers, food, and sharing those with friends. She always used to say that it was a gift to cook and make a beautiful meal for the people she loved."

Johannes Appelman
Johannes Appelman

Hone family spokesman Darren Wright said the family were still coming to grips with reality.

"They're coping as well as can be expected. They've lost their darling daughter, so it's one step at a time."

A large oak tree in the central playground at Sumner School, where Ella and Abi were former pupils, is serving as a memorial site.

The tree trunk is covered with cards, origami cranes, flowers, and balloons, and cards have been hung on branches with ribbons.