'Dark hole' in community after crash

Sally Summerfield and daughter Ella died in the crash.
Sally Summerfield and daughter Ella died in the crash.
The deaths of Sally Summerfield, her daughter Ella, and friend Abi Hone have left a "big, dark hole" in the tight-knit Sumner community, friends say.

They were killed in a road smash near Rakaia on Saturday. Sally's husband Shane Summerfield, who was driving, is recovering at Christchurch Hospital.

Dutch tourist Johannes Jacobus Appelman has been charged with careless driving causing death in relation to the incident.

Wyn Mossman, a close family friend and colleague of Shane Summerfield's, said Shane was conscious and recovering.

"He is getting better. And he is very aware. He should make a full physical recovery," he said.

Mr Mossman said the tragedy had torn a hole in the community, and the Summerfield family were in shock, particularly 16-year-old Sam, who has lost his mother and sister.

"Sam is pretty stunned. No mum, no sister, father in intensive care," Mr Mossman said.

"They were just great people from great families. They had an enormous lot to live for.

"Abi was a gorgeous girl with a great sense of humour. Ella was a particularly good athlete. She recently competed in the nationals for triathlon. Sally was very creative."

Mr Mossman said family friends from around the world, who had been displaced by the earthquakes, were coming back from as far as France and Canada to pay their respects.

"They leave a big, dark hole. They were special people."

The families were planning separate funerals, likely to be next week, but details were not yet finalised, he said.

Rachel Thornton, Sally's close friend and business partner, described the 49-year-old as a nature-lover, entrepreneur, and keen blogger who loved food, flowers and gatherings.

"Sally was very compassionate, creative, and she loved beauty and nature," she said.

Together the friends managed Carousel Flora Design, which had a shop in Lyttelton. Their business was based on the idea of showing the beauty of Christchurch.

"After the earthquakes, it became very important for both of us to create something we could share with other people, showing beauty in everyday things -- in nature, in our gardens, all around us. There was so much devastation, so we just wanted to seek beauty," Ms Thornton said.

"The whole concept of her blog was gathering. Going out to the hillsides and gathering flowers, food, and sharing those with friends. She always used to say that it was a gift to cook and make a beautiful meal for the people she loved."

Hone family spokesman Darren Wright said the family were still coming to grips with reality.

"They're coping as can be expected. They've lost their darling daughter, so it's one step at a time."

A large oak tree in the central playground at Sumner School, where 12-year-olds Ella and Abi were former pupils, is serving as a memorial site.

The tree trunk is covered with cards, origami cranes, flowers, and balloons, and cards have been hung on branches with ribbons.

"The children and staff have supported each other beautifully in this very sad time, and will continue to do so," acting principal Paul Wilkinson said.

- Derek Cheng of APNZ

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