Western Leader : January 19th 2012
Does your business have a website? slide show map profile contact details www.roomoutsidelandscapes.co.nz Phone 09 837 0340 We can help you design a webpage. To find out HOW contact us NOW. If not you are missing out on Potential Customers of customers research online before making a purchase* *Source MYOB Study 2010-2011 66% www.aucklandnow.co.nz Thursday, January 19, 2012 First at air crash site By HINERANGI VAIMOSO Unfolding horror: Waitakere Hospital nurses Jacqui O'Connor and Annette Tempest retell the moment they watched the Carterton hot air balloon crash. Photo: VANITA PRASAD Devastated: Family members of the people killed in the Carterton hot air balloon crash leave the accident site. Photo: PHIL REID/DOMINION POST/FAIRFAX NURSES Jacqui O'Connor and Annette Tempest aren't strangers to high pressure situations. But nothing in their 18-year careers prepared them to be two of the first people on the scene of New Zealand's worst hot air bal- loon crash that killed 11 people near Carterton on January 7. The balloon was preparing to land in a paddock after a 45-minute flight when it hit a powerline carrying the pilot and passengers. It then made a sharp ascent, caught fire and plummeted into a paddock. The women, who started back at Waitakere Hospital yesterday, graduated from nursing school together in 1994. Their families holiday together every summer. They usually stay in the Coromandel but Mrs Tempest was turning 40 and they'd planned to celebrate at a Wairarapa winery. It was her five-year-old daughter Rosie who first noticed the drama unfolding from the Carterton Holiday Park just a few kilometres away. Her dad ran over first and he called us. That's when we just saw it burst into flames and basically disintegrate before dropping,'' Mrs O'Con- nor says. We sprinted up to the office, called 111 then jumped in the car and raced over. Hot air balloons seem much closer than they actually are. It was only a few kilometres away but it felt like it took forever to get there.'' Mrs O'Connor along with Mr and Mrs Tempest all ran to the final resting site of what was left of the balloon. No one had gone over there. No one had rushed over to it because it was so obvious what had happened. It looked like the remnants of an out-of-control bonfire,'' Mrs O'Connor says. I honestly have no idea what police could have taken away from the scene -- it was so horrible.'' Mrs Tempest says seeing the families who had watched on helplessly was heart- wrenching. They all just stood still with their jaws on the ground. You could tell that they hadn't even moved. It was quite obvious that there was no need to rush over to the balloon,'' she says. Unfortunately it was just the worst-case scenario.'' It was then that the nurses were summoned by firemen to check on one of two pas- sengers who had dropped out of the basket before the fire. I was in bare feet and the man was lying in long grass. The powerlines had weaved through the grass so there was the extra risk of being electrocuted. Paramedics arrived soon after we did and continued CPR but it just didn't work,'' she says. I'd done resuscitation before at work but not when you're in the middle of nowhere like this. It was just so surreal.'' Mrs O'Connor says the dis- aster has had a major effect on their lives and they might consider counselling offered through their workplace. The thought of it wakes me up in the night,'' Mrs O'Connor says. We've been looking after each other though and every- one has been supportive with texts and phone calls.'' Mrs Tempest says her daughter seems to be coping well because she's too young to understand the severity of the accident. The families have been fol- lowing stories in the media about the people who perished in the fire. That's the hardest thing. Finding out who these people were,'' she says.
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