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Grieving fiance pays tribute to Rotorua’s Richie Martin after he was hit by a car and fatally injured

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Tanya Anderson embraces a photo of her soulmate Richie Martin, who was killed after being hit by a car while crossing the road. Photo / Andrew Warner

Richie Martin and Tanya Anderson were soulmates, engaged to be married – until a horror collision changed everything. Martin was fatally injured when he was hit by a car while crossing the road, just steps behind his fiance. His death was the second recent tragedy for his family, and Anderson went from planning a wedding to a funeral. She spoke to journalist Kiri Gillespie to pay tribute to her charming, cheeky man, and share publicly for the first time what she saw that terrible night.

In a split second, Tanya Anderson’s world fell apart.

She and her fiance Richie Martin were crossing Arawa St outside the Rotorua Citizen’s Club, about 2am on a Saturday when she heard an enormous crash behind her.

“He was saying goodbye to a friend on the footpath. I was walking across, so I was further across the road.

“I placed my foot on the median strip and I heard it,” she said.

“I thought that the impact was huge. I knew a car had gone behind me. I thought a car had pulled out from a street and hit another car.”

Nothing prepared Anderson for what she saw when she turned around.

“I just saw Richie falling and hit the road, like a dummy on the TV ads. I just screamed.”

There was no second car.

Anderson ran over, filled with shock, despair and disbelief.

“I was thinking ‘this can’t be real. Is he okay? Is he alive?'”

Martin was alive but he had suffered multiple critical injuries.

Anderson said she saw the car involved take off from the crash scene, but there seemed to be other people there instantly.

Police were already in the area and an ambulance that happened to be passing took him to Rotorua Hospital.

“I thought, ‘that’s so good. He might be okay’, you know? But then within a very short time, they said ‘he’s very, very serious.”

It was September 17 and Martin was flown to Waikato Hospital, then Middlemore Hospital for an eight-hour surgery.

“Richie fought for his life for a week in Middlemore Hospital. He wasn’t ready to go, he had so much more to give and so much life to live,” Anderson said.

“The head and spinal injuries and multiple broken bones were too much for him to bear.”

Martin died in hospital on September 23.

Richie Martin died after being hit by a car in central Rotorua. Photo / Supplied
Richie Martin died after being hit by a car in central Rotorua. Photo / Supplied

Yesterday, Anderson was still grappling with her new reality.

“I think he’s going to walk in the door,” she said.

“It all seems like a nightmare and I haven’t woken up.”

A Givealittle page set up by Martin’s whanau in the days after the crash has raised $6675. While the costs were initially to help Martin on his road to recovery and to help cover accommodation and food costs for those at his side, the money was instead put towards funeral costs.

Martin was farewelled at Waiteti Marae on September 27.

Anderson said Martin was well known in Rotorua and his work at John Crean Timber, ITM and Red Stag meant he “knew all the builders”. He was “very much a people’s person”, she said.

“He’s built so many decks and fences, etc. Lots of our friends have said it’s so good to have a bit of Richie on the property still.”

Anderson said she was sharing her story “because he deserves a tribute”.

Martin served on the board of the Rotorua Citizens Club for the last two years, where Anderson is the club manager.

“He voluntarily worked tirelessly for our club, helping in every way he can,” she said.

“Everyone knew him … The staff adored him and appreciated his help behind the scenes. The whole club is mourning his loss.”

Anderson said she and her “sometimes cheeky” fiance treasured their wonderful relationship.

Tanya Anderson embraces a photo of her soulmate Richie Martin, who was killed after being hit by a car while crossing the road. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tanya Anderson embraces a photo of her soulmate Richie Martin, who was killed after being hit by a car while crossing the road. Photo / Andrew Warner

“We were soulmates and our love for each other was something you only read about in books.”

The couple planned on getting married “and he told everyone in the club constantly”.

“He even had the dressmaker lined up. We had trips planned and so much life ahead of us.

“Richie’s smile and charm would light up a room. He would meet someone and by the end of the conversation, he would know where they are from and often someone they know. He had that gift.”

Martin’s sudden death was a huge blow to the family, which was still mourning the death of Martin’s father, Trevor Martin, just three months earlier, she said.

“Now his mum and siblings – Trevor, Nupi, Tania, Adrian and Steven – are mourning a double loss.”

He is survived by children Samuel, Richard and Nadia “and loved by his many mokopuna”. He will also be deeply missed by Anderson and children Soltice, Diaz and Jasmine.

Mokopuna Taiahurei and Maioro with koro Richie Martin. Photo / Supplied
Mokopuna Taiahurei and Maioro with koro Richie Martin. Photo / Supplied

Anderson said Martin’s death had impacted many lives.

“I have lost my best friend, future husband and soul mate”.

“Our lives changed in a split second.”

Police are investigating the crash but have not made an arrest.

Anderson’s plea to all drivers was to take responsibility for being safe on the roads.

“Many lives are at risk as ours has changed forever.”

• If anyone has information about the crash, they are encouraged to go to the police and quote file number 220917/6192. Information can also be provided anonymously via 0800 Crimestoppers.



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