Husband's last words to wife before fatal crash

Steffi August said her husband was such a hardworking man and the "top furniture mover in town"....
Steffi August said her husband was such a hardworking man and the "top furniture mover in town". Photo: NZ Herald
"I'll talk to you tonight." Those were the last words Steffi August heard from her beloved husband, Fred, uttered less than an hour before a crash took his life.

The 58-year-old Mount Maunganui man died in a truck crash on the afternoon of April 11 near Tokoroa.

He had operated furniture moving company UPak Removals in Tauranga for 16 years and left behind a loving wife, four children and seven grandchildren.

A mad golf fan, a sucker for a beer, a patient father and a man with the most generous heart were just some of the ways Fred's loved ones described him.

Steffi said it had been hard to come to terms with the loss of her husband and that it "did not seem real".

The pair, who were married for five years, had what the family described as a "raw and passionate love".

"I said to him nothing was ever allowed to happen to him or it would break my heart, but I guess men don't always listen," she said, through tears and a giggle.

The morning of the crash, Steffi said she had got up early to cook her husband a large breakfast. This was as well as the big lunchbox she would pack for him every day, with little notes of love written on his banana, sandwich wrap and drink bottle.

"I so love him and he knew that. We would lock eyes and it was just fire."

She was supposed to go with him the day of the crash, but got tied up with work commitments.

Steffi fondly remembered how on the 16th of every month, the pair would have a special date night, no matter the circumstances.

On one occasion, they ate chicken schnitzel and salad by candlelight at 3am in the back of one of their moving trucks to ensure tradition was kept.

"His smile would light up a room."

His daughter, Ang Berryman, said when the police arrived at her door to tell her the news, she felt her heart completely shatter.

She said he always had the time of day for anyone and was the most passionate father and opa to her children.

Fred's half brother died the Monday before Fred's death. On the way home from the funeral, Fred described to his daughter exactly how he wanted his funeral to go.

Little did the family know that only three days later, they would be planning that exact event.

According to those wishes, Fred was buried with his favourite beer in hand, a remote on his lap and, with his open casket, he was able to watch the Masters golf before he was cremated.

Steffi August said he was hardworking and the "top furniture mover in town".

More than 400 people attended the funeral, held on Monday.

The support had been incredible, said Mrs August. Her home had become a "flower shop" as devastated friends and customers sent their condolences.

To commemorate a week on from his death, the family headed to his favourite pub for a raffle draw, being sure to enter his lucky number 67.

"I just want people to appreciate every single day they get with those they love as life can be snatched away so quickly."

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