The family of a truck driver killed in a two-truck crash this week has praised emergency workers who tried to save his life.
Timothy "Timo" Tupaea was farewelled at Tuakau's Nga Tai E Rua Marae, South Auckland, yesterday.
Emergency services battled to free Tupaea from the wreckage of his cab for 2 hours in bitter cold, wind and rain after the Kerikeri Rd crash on Tuesday.
His sister, Peggy-Sue Minhinnick, praised those who were with him at the end.
"We just want to say thank you to the ambulance people, the ones who were taking care of him when he was sandwiched in the truck.
"He was still alive then and talking to them. And the police, they were awesome too."
She didn't know what he'd said, just that the 51-year-old was alert.
"But once they freed him, his body was crushed from the waist down. Once they released the pressure, he just went."
She said his employer, Toll New Zealand, arranged for a truck to take his body to its final resting place.
He loved trucks and had been a driver since about age 20.
"He was a very good driver. He lost a son a couple of years ago, aged 16, in a car accident."
Meanwhile, Kerikeri resident Jason Christensen has started an appeal for the town's volunteer firefighters and ambulance officers after the crash.
Some of the volunteers were deeply affected by the battle to save the Tupaea's life and have been offered counselling.
Said Christensen: "All those guys were out there in the freezing rain and wind, trying to save someone. They do it for free, and I wanted to do something to say thank you to them for being there when our community needed it most."
The money raised would probably be used for a fun day out for volunteers of both services and their families. The appeal runs until Friday.
- additional reporting Peter de Graaf, Northern Advocate
• Donations to the Kiwibank account of The Angel Project-NZ, 38-9014-0325165-00. Use the reference "Ambo".