Paul and Gay Wadsworth recall their experience of the Christchurch earthquake. The couple were visiting their son Paul when the quake struck.
Paul and Gay Wadsworth recall their experience of the Christchurch earthquake. The couple were visiting their son Paul when the quake struck. Claudia Baxter

Earthquake memories haunt couple

IT WAS meant to be a relaxing holiday, but Bellbird Park couple Gay and Paul Wadsworth’s Christchurch getaway saw them running for their lives as people were crushed to death in front of them.

Mrs Wadsworth’s injured knees had forced the pair to catch a bus through the city’s main street on the day of the quake instead of walking, and that decision probably saved them.

They returned to Ipswich from Christchurch yesterday, still shocked.

“I’m going to see a psychologist, I just can’t handle what I saw,” Mr Wadsworth said as he fought back tears.

“We can’t sleep. The images of dead people just go over and over in our heads.

“We saw people killed right in front of us.”

The quake’s death toll now stands at 161.

Police expect the toll to reach 240 when all bodies are recovered.

The news footage from last week’s 6.3 magnitude quake was horrific but it did not compare to the memories the Wadsworth family have.

“There was a large car park across the road from us and when it happened, it was flattened. Just one person came out of there alive,” Mr Wadsworth said.

“We have the television on every night to fall asleep. If we lay there in the dark, the memories won’t go away.

“I don’t know how we survived. Someone was watching over us.”

The couple has spent the past 22 years in Ipswich, after emigrating from Dunedin, south of Christchurch.

Mr Wadsworth worked as a swimming instructor at Ipswich State School and Woogaroo Swimming Club.

The couple also helped many people in Ipswich after the floods.

Mrs Wadsworth said she wished she was still in Christchurch.

“I wish I was there still. I didn’t want to come back,” she said. “I worry for the family I have there. There’s so many aftershocks and you’re not there to help.”

The couple were in Christchurch for two weeks to visit their son Paul, who also lived in Ipswich for many years.

“The days after the quake were just as rough. There was no sewage. You put a plastic bag in the toilet and took it to the bin after you were done.”



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