Hero to the rescue – twice

Published: March 15, 2007 | 5769th good news item since 2003

Northern Southlander Andrew “Jock” Sharp found himself an unwitting hero twice at the weekend.

On Saturday he and his flatmate Nathan “Spanky” Clarke saved six men from a burning holiday home, the target of what police believe was an arson attack, across the street from their home in Waikaia.

The following day the truck driver was second on the scene at a horrific head-on crash on State Highway 1 near Henley, 32km south of Dunedin.

Mr Sharp said yesterday the weekend’s events had only just started to hit home.

“Last night was a bit different …

I sat down and thought ‘what a weekend’.”

He and Mr Clarke had been at the Commercial Hotel in Waikaia on Friday night when a dispute broke out between the men staying at the holiday home and others at the hotel, he said.

“A couple of hours later the house went up.”

Mr Clarke was woken by the blaze shortly after 3am on Saturday.

“He yelled out to me that the house across the road was on fire – I rang the fire brigade while Nathan got them out,” Mr Sharp said.

“It was pretty serious, there was petrol (used to light the blaze) and all that.”

Mr Clarke said he rushed into the smoke-filled Blaydon St house without a second thought.

“Someone had to do it – I just went in and pulled them all out, I had to run around and wake them all.”

Waikaia chief fire officer Ross Sage praised the actions of the duo.

“What they did that night was marvellous. If they had been five minutes later it would have been a different story.”

The six men had been drinking and “were fairly well asleep” when the fire broke out, he said.

The brigade arrived at the house about 3.20am and had the fire, which started at the front veranda of the house and spread into the roof cavity, under control within about two hours, he said.

The drama continued for Mr Sharp on Sunday when he was one of the first on the scene of a crash that put seven people in hospital.

He had been travelling on State Highway 1 towards Waihola about 1pm when he saw a “cloud of smoke and dust” up ahead, he said.

Blocking the road off with his stock truck, he donned a fluorescent vest and went to help, he said.

The collision was between a southbound Subaru WRX carrying four Gore and Mataura men and a northbound Toyota four-wheel-drive vehicle carrying a Balclutha family of five.

Describing the crash as the worst he had seen in 10 years of driving, Mr Sharp helped the family out of their vehicle before helping with the men in the other car.

“I helped keeping everyone awake – they were sort of in and out of consciousness.”

Police yesterday released the names of those injured in the crash.

The four men in the Subaru, all aged 17 to 18, were Ricky Power, Damien Mercer, Daniel Lynch and Shannon Bailey, all of Gore.

The driver of the Subaru, Mr Lynch, who along with Mr Power was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital, were both listed as stable in general wards last night, as were Mr Mercer and Mr Bayley, a hospital spokeswoman said. The occupants of the Toyota, Ronny Hill, 35, his wife Tracey, 36, and their three children, Brooke, 17, Joshua, 8, and Mikayla, 6, were taken to Dunedin Hospital by ambulance.

Mr Hill was discharged yesterday, while his wife was in a stable condition in a general ward and son Joshua was also listed as stable in the children’s ward last night.

Published in Heroes, Rescues
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