A Gisborne grandfather was on a mission to lose weight as a surprise for his son's upcoming wedding when he and a colleague were hit by a car and left for dead.
Well known school bus driver Peter Horne, 65, is now battling serious injuries in Waikato Hospital's high dependency unit after the incident on Centennial Marine Drive, by Watson Park, about 6.20am last Wednesday.
His 67-year-old colleague is also recovering in Gisborne Hospital but has been able to talk with colleagues and police.
Police are now seeking sightings of a mid-2000s, silver-coloured Holden Commodore which would have suffered frontal damage including the windscreen.
Horne's son, Michael O'Dell-Horne, the youngest of four siblings, had been at his father's bedside with brother Stephen since news of the incident.
O'Dell-Horne, 28, said his father was initially in a critical condition but over the past few days he had slightly improved while in Waikato Hospital. He was now stable and had briefly woken but was severely disorientated and unable to recognise anyone.
"He's miles better than what he was on Wednesday. They've repaired all the internal bleeding and they took him off the ventilator, so he's breathing by himself.
"Yesterday he kind of came to a little bit but he's very confused and very disorientated and he's got severe concussion to the point where he doesn't even recognise who we are which is understandable but a little bit upsetting."
He said the Go Bus driver was out clocking up steps in a bid to lose weight for O'Dell-Horne's wedding in Northland in two weeks; a heart-breaking discovery as his father had kept his quest secret from family.
"They were doing a steps challenge so they could lose weight for work. Dad was actually doing the challenge because I've got a wedding coming up and he wanted to surprise us by losing heaps of weight."
He said his father's recovery was likely due to the extra steps he was putting into his fitness.
They'd been floored by the support received from the Gisborne community including the children he took to school.
"They all had the Thursday and Friday off school because they were all upset ... they were all in tears on Thursday and the teachers apparently said take them home and let them start their holidays early."
As for the driver fleeing the scene, O'Dell-Horne said while accidents did happen "we are very frustrated that he was left there".
"That's kind of what's got us really cut up."
A givealittle page has also been set up by his distraught colleagues in Gisborne.
Go Bus office administrator Heather Hallgarth told the Gisborne Herald the incident had left their workmates shocked.
"It has really knocked the guys around. We are a pretty close-knit team."
Hallgarth said staff were relieved Horne's companion was recovering in Gisborne Hospital.
"But Peter has a very long and hard road ahead of him to fully recover from his injuries.
"Peter is such a kind man and he is loved by many in our Gisborne community, not just his family."
Gisborne police were keen to hear from anyone who was in the beachfront area at the time of the incident or who had seen the damaged silver Holden Commodore.
People can phone police on 06-869 0200 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.