December 10, 2019
An evening drive to get milk ended with Anton Strydom airlifted to hospital with fractured ribs, a punctured lung and head lacerations - the result of a head-on crash with a tourist driver.
Though bedridden and awaiting further surgeries in Auckland Hospital, the Hot Water Beach resident said there was no resentment for the man who put him there.
The crash occurred along Hot Water Beach Rd on Monday, December 2, around 9.30pm.
Strydom was returning home from picking up groceries in Whitianga when a tourist in a rental campervan came around a corner on the wrong side of the road and hit him head-on.
Strydom was cut out of his vehicle and flown to Auckland Hospital, where he has since gone through two knee operations. He'll undergo an operation to mend his broken ankle this week.
It means he'll be unable to return to work at Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park, and as a professional driver for Coromandel Adventures, for some time.
But despite the physical, mental and financial impacts of the crash, Strydom maintains a positive outlook.
He's been in contact with the tourist driver, who suffered minor injuries.
"He was what you'd expect from somebody who just caused a major accident and was really rueful about what he saw unfolding in front of him," he said.
"He was in tears and very broken up about it... but it doesn't help to beat yourself up."
Strydom said working in the tourism industry meant he made his living off off visitors to the Coromandel, and he was not going to point the finger at all tourist drivers.
He said the underlying thing that kept him going was the realisation it could have been much worse.
"When I started getting involved in the tourism industry directly, I started to see this country's beauty and the wonder in nature - it makes you have a far more balanced outlook.
"You realise when you're sitting there and the people are cutting you out [of the car], how incredibly thankful and grateful you are for all the volunteer work, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and St John."
One of Strydom's close friends felt so indebted to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter that she volunteered at the recent Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust open day.
Not only that, but a Givealittle page set up by friends of the family raised $2,355 in two days to go towards medical bills, the cost of petrol, and accommodation.
Strydom said he was not surprised by the outpouring of support from the Coromandel community, but to witness it was "exceptionally heart-warming".
It was the quick action of community members that alerted Strydom's wife Lynette Hendrikse to the crash.
"We live on a real community basis on the Coromandel, and the people behind me were emergency responders off-duty, so they could immediately call the on-duty people," Strydom said.
Another witness to the crash knew a friend of the family, who then notified Hendrikse and the couple's children.
Police confirmed they received a report on the evening of December 2 of a vehicle collision on Hot Water Beach Road.
A 30-year-old man will appear in the Thames District Court on December 12 with a charge of careless or inconsiderate operation of a vehicle causing injury.