Recovering cars from a Dunedin beach wasn't a "money-making
exercise'' and shouldn't have ended with a shouting match at
a police station, the men involved in the salvage say.
Rhys McAlevey, of Dunedin, said he had no sympathy for
Mahmoud Helal, Ali Ibrahim and Hassan Almulla, believed to be
international students living in Dunedin, whose three cars
got stuck on Tomahawk Beach about 9pm on Saturday.
"If they had rung someone when it first happened, they would
have got out but they were trying to get out for the cheapest
At 10am on Sunday, at low tide, Mr McAlevey said he offered
to salvage the two cars stuck furthest up the beach, a Nissan
Maxima and Toyota Corolla.
The recovery required two four-wheel-drive vehicles, a Nissan
Navara and a Toyota Land Cruiser.
A $50 fee for each 4WD driver was agreed upon to cover any
damage to the vehicles during the salvage.
"I didn't come down here for a money-making exercise; it's
about covering your costs when you break something.''
The Nissan was salvaged and $100 was paid.
The Maxima could have been salvaged but it was locked, the
handbrake was on, and the keys were missing, so it remained
on the beach, as the incoming tide approached.
An attempt to winch the Toyota Camry - the car closest to the
surf - was unsuccessful because it was buried deep in sand
and would not budge, Mr McAlevey said.
He said he agreed to return to the beach at 6pm on Sunday,
after high tide, for a second salvage attempt.
Blake Stanley, of Dunedin, said when he arrived at the beach
about 4pm, another man had "blown both of his front hubs
out'' attempting to salvage a car.
Mr Stanley towed out the broken car with his Toyota Hilux.
When Mr McAlevey returned for the second salvage attempt, he
and Mr Stanley agreed a fee of $200 per vehicle used during
Mr McAlevey said he and Mr Stanley, and a man with a Land
Cruiser, who did not want to be named, worked for about two
hours to recover the two cars.
Mr Stanley broke towing straps in the process.
When the salvage was complete the situation turned ugly, Mr
The students told the salvage crew to follow them home for
"They led us straight to the police station,'' Mr McAlevey
At the station, Mr McAlevey said the students became
aggressive and an argument ensued until a student took $200
from a wad of cash, gave it to Mr McAlevey and Mr Stanley and
swore at them.
"If they said: ‘We'll buy you a couple of boxes of beers each
and a feed', that would have been that, but the annoying
thing is they had no intention of paying and lied about it,''
Mr McAlevey said.
The three damaged cars were left in the beach car park
overnight and were vandalised.
Yesterday, the Nissan and Corolla had been removed but the
Camry remained in the beach car park.
Dunedin City Council parking enforcement team leader Daphne
Griffen said the council was trying to contact the Camry
owner to remove the car.
If it was not removed, it would be towed at the driver's
Yesterday, the council received two complaints about the
Camry being in the car park.
Reilly's Towage & Salvage owner Rob Williams said if the
students had called Reilly's on Saturday the vehicles could
have been towed.
A beach salvage was expensive because parts of the salvage
vehicle had to be steam-cleaned to prevent rusting.
Towing vehicles from beaches was annoying because it
jeopardised his fleet.
"If you drive on the beach, you need your head examined.''
To salvage one car from Tomahawk Beach would have cost the
students between $200 and $350.
To salvage the three would have cost between $450 and $600.
Automobile Association spokesman Liam Baldwin said if an AA
member got a vehicle stuck in the sand, the AA would not
recover the vehicle but would connect the member with a tow
"Any recovery would be at the car owner's cost.''
The AA had not received calls from Mr Helal, Mr Ibrahim or Mr
Almulla at the weekend.
Southern police spokesman Nic Barkley said police were called
on Sunday and were told to expect a group of men at Dunedin
Central station about 7pm.
"They came into the police station, there was a bit of an
argument and we let them know, because it was a civil matter
we couldn't help them.''
Mr Helal, Mr Ibrahim and Mr Almulla did not respond to
interview requests yesterday.