By ROBYN BRISTOW
Desperate times called for desperate measures at Greta Valley last week when a serious accident stood in the way of a couple getting to a family funeral.
The police saved the day for Mike “Bones” Evans and his wife, Sharmaine, but not before some cross country trekking and neighbours pitching in to ensure the couple could make it to the farewell of Bones’ 92-year-old mum.
Bones had tried to hitch a ride in the Westpac Rescue chopper to get to the Christchurch funeral after playing a major role in organising it, but there was no room.
It was needed for a driver badly injured after two trucks collided on the highway running past the township, with one of them rolling and scattering gas cylinders over the road.
The crash put the brakes on traffic travelling in both directions, stranding the couple in the Greta Valley Tavern, which they own, in the middle of the accident cordon.
Bones had made it to the tavern from the couple’s Motunau Beach Road farm before the crash.
However, Sharmaine had not. She was forced to improvise. She parked at the northern end of the road block, negotiated the road verge of the state highway as far as she could go, before hitching up her skirt and heading across country through long grass and over a fence to join Bones in the tavern to discuss a plan B to make it to the funeral on time.
To complicate matters, they had cutlery, crockery, crayfish, full chilly-bins and urns stacked in the pub’s courtesy van, all ready to be driven south to cater for those attending the funeral.
Bones rang his son, Paul, who had earlier dropped his ute off at Waikari to be serviced.
He had hitched a lift to Amberley to wait for his parents to pick him up.
Paul immediately back-tracked, picked up his unserviced ute and headed back to Amberley, while Mike explained their predicament to the police manning the southern road block.
The police called up a patrol car from Rangiora, while Mike, Sharmaine, and neighbours Richard Mowat and sons helped carry the goodies from the courtesy van, down the hill from the pub “like sherpas”, in the rain, to the waiting police car.
“Ironically enough, the Mowats had a young bloke staying with them who was from Nepal and was a genuine sherpa,” Bones says.
Once everybody and everything was on board, the lights and sirens were activated and the funeral party headed south.
“Sharmaine enjoyed the experience as she had never been in a police car before. I’ve been in a few, though.”
They met their son in Amberley, transferred everything to the ute, and headed into Christchurch, arriving just in the “nick of time”, Bones says.
“If it hadn’t been for the combined efforts from our local police and neighbours, I would have never have got to my dear old mum’s funeral.”
He was also grateful to the Hurunui District Council, which also offered a helping hand.
“Mum had a great sense of humour so would have loved it.”