Hundreds expected for Ashburton crash victim's funeral

Abi Hone
Abi Hone
Up to 1000 mourners, including school children, are expected to attend crash victim Abi Hone's funeral at her old primary school on Monday.

Abi, 12, was killed along with her best friend Ella Summerfield, also 12, and Ella's mum Sally, 49, after a Dutch tourist allegedly ran a stop sign in rural Canterbury last Saturday.

Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, has been charged with careless driving causing death in relation to the incident.

Mrs Summerfield's husband Shane, who was driving, is recovering in Christchurch Hospital.

He is awake and talking but overwhelmed with grief, a family friend said.

Darren Wright, Hone family spokesman, said Abi's funeral would be held at the Sumner School hall at 2pm on Monday.

Media have been asked to keep their distance. But a large turnout from the tight-knit seaside, and earthquake-battered community, is expected.

The school hall has a 650-person capacity but a large marquee has been erected to cater for the overspill.

At lunchtime on Monday, students will be given the option of either staying on to continue their learning, go home, or attend the funeral.

"It's completely up to them," Mr Wright said.

"The family wants to get as much support as they can."

Both Abi and Ella attended the school, with both families being integral in fundraising to erect the school hall.

Some of Abi's year 8 Rangi Ruru Girls' School classmates are also expected to attend.

A large oak tree in the central playground has become a focal point for the grieving community, its trunk covered with cards, origami cranes, flowers, and balloons.

Abi's parents Lucy and Trevor are too distraught to speak to the media.

"They are busy planning their daughter's funeral which was not something that they had thought they would be doing," said Mr Wright.

Friends and family are starting to arrive from all over New Zealand, and the world, including England and France, he said.

The support from them, and the wider community, is giving them a "huge amount of strength".

"There are a lot of people hurting over this," Mr Wright said.

"It seems to have very much impacted people across Canterbury and New Zealand."

The Summerfield family are taking the double loss "pretty bloody tough", said Wyn Mossman, Mr Summerfield's business partner and family spokesman.

They released a short statement last night which simply said: "We would like to thank the public, particularly the Sumner community, for all their love and support during this difficult time.

"We now request privacy to allow us to grieve for our family members.

"This is the only public statement we have made or will be making."

APNZ understands Appelman has not yet been in touch with the Hones or the Summerfields.

He has also not contacted the Dutch Embassy.

"We are closely following the case, of course, but it's up to the suspect to approach the Embassy," said spokesman Stefan Hulisz.

"I have reasons to believe he might contact us in the next few days."

Appelman, on bail in the city, will reappear at Christchurch District Court on July 10.

- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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