THANKS A TONNE: Farmers’ Transport truck-driver Chris Tupaea is being praised after stopping to investigate a rural road accident in Elsthorpe on Friday night.
A Waipukurau truckie is being hailed a hero after spotting a stricken motorist whose ute had rolled and slid 150m off a remote road in Central Hawke’s Bay.
Farmers’ Transport driver Chris Tupaea had just finished delivering a mob of rams on Friday night when he saw headlights in a paddock off Elsthorpe’s Atua Rd, about 7.30pm. The 52-year-old’s fears were confirmed when he discovered tyre marks from the metal road that went over a grass verge and led to the ute.
“I pulled over straight away and after having a look I saw it had actually landed back on its wheels,” Mr Tupaea said. “It obviously rolled because the right side of it was quite damaged.”
Moments after he stopped the victim’s son had arrived. “I told him it doesn’t look good but he went down there and his father was conscious and talking. He had chest pains and some pretty obvious bruising to his face.
“There was no cellphone coverage so he [son] had to relay messages back to me so I could pass them on to my base via the truck’s RT radio. It was a bit of a mission but it worked well.”
Otane fire chief John Oliver praised Mr Tupaea’s efforts. He said it was fortunate he had seen “fish tail” skid marks and stopped to investigate. “The man was laying there for about an hour before he came across him,” Mr Oliver said. “He could have been there for a lot longer if he had not been spotted.”
Elsthorpe and Otane fire volunteers retrieved the driver. “We had to use our four-wheel-drive vehicle, which was the only way to get access to the paddock. We used its lights to see the man and to get him out of the ute. There were six guys that stretchered him out, about 150m across the paddock, to the ambulance.”
The ute driver, believed to be an Elsthorpe farmer, was listed in a serious but stable condition in Hawke’s Bay Hospital.
Mr Tupaea, who has driven trucks since 1978, laughed at the “hero” label. “No way, mate. I didn’t do anything much at all.”
*Original story from Hawkes Bay Today 18-6-2012 edition.