'Obvious there was only one person alive'
SHANE COWLISHAW Last updated 05:00 28/02/2011
The identity of a mysterious man who held the hand of a woman trapped in the wreckage of a bus has been revealed.
Lincoln University lecturer Ann Brower was on the No 3 bus in Colombo St when it was crushed by falling rubble.
Several people died but Ms Brower was eventually rescued, suffering a broken leg and severed tendons in her hand.
Speaking from her hospital bed on Friday, Ms Brower said the man she knew as "Rob" had been a lifesaver as he supported her through the terrifying experience before she was rescued. "Rob got to me, he just held my hand and talked to me while the people were digging me out," she said.
"It's probably quite selfish – I should have let him talk to other people – but he stayed with me."
The man who soothed her while she was rescued has been identified as rope access technician Dennis Haskell.
The father of three was on the top floor of a car park building having a smoko break with co-workers when the earthquake struck. Sprinting down the stairwell, he ran around the corner and saw the crushed bus.
Joining a group of people trying to get into the wreckage, Mr Haskell managed to break through fibreglass and cut through steel with a handsaw to get inside.
"After a while it became pretty obvious there was only one person alive ... I could hear her screaming."
He grabbed Ms Brower's hand and talked to her until they could free her. She was placed in a van and that was the last he saw of her.
Mr Haskell had told his family about the woman he had helped but did not realise Ms Brower had survived until he saw the article about her.
The name mix-up was probably due to Ms Brower bumping her head as she seemed confused during the horrific ordeal, he said. "I was asking her a lot of questions and she couldn't remember quite a few easy ones. There may have been a Rob around helping."
It was "awesome" to learn she had survived.