End of CTV inquiry brings tears
Thursday 6 Dec 2012 7:19 p.m.
A man whose wife died in the collapsed CTV building after the Christchurch earthquake says he's confident changes will be made to rescue services, following an inquest into her death.
Tamara Cvetanova survived the initial collapse, only to die hours later because rescuers couldn't get to her.
Everyday Alec Cvetanov has sat at the back of the coroner's court listening to the harrowing details of the failed rescue attempt to save his wife. But as the inquiry drew to a close he rose to his feet with tears in his eyes when Coroner Gordon Matenga addressed him.
“I can fully understand the powerlessness you must have felt as you clambered over the ruins of the building that night - knowing that your wife was only metres away from you,” says Mr Matenga.
For three weeks the search and rescue operation at the CTV building has been criticised for being uncoordinated and slow. But today's final witness shed some light on the life and death decisions that confronted those first searchers on the scene.
He praised their bravery for crawling into voids within the rubble - and how they left their helmets behind to mark the spot in case they too were killed or trapped.
“If you’re thinking that way already you’re right at the limit of where you should be doing your operations - when the risk is too great to your personnel they're right at the ragged edge - I think they went beyond the call of duty,” says Los Angeles Fire chief Capt Ernesto Ojeda.
It’s a sentiment that Mr Cvetanov shares - he was there all night and knows just how frightening and frustrating the situation was.
He just hopes this inquest into the death of his wife and the seven others who survived the collapse, only to die in the rubble, helps the rescue services to learn from their mistakes.
“From the organisational side I've seen spaces for improvement and I believe they will be done in the future,” says Mr Cvetanov.
Coroner Matenga has reserved his findings.