Josh Ryder with fiancé Shizelle Harland and her son Trim, 12.
Life for Shizelle Harland and her three children will never be the same.
Harland’s fiancée Joshua John Ryder, 33, was killed in a head-on crash south of Christchurch on July 7. Harland and the teenage boyfriend of one of her daughters were seriously injured.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” Harland said of Ryder’s death.
“I Just Taken” [everything] at five minutes at a time…it’s just too hard and the kids are just lost [and] shocked.”
She and Ryder had been engaged for two and a half years, living in Timaru and trying to have a baby, she said.
On July 7, the day of the accident, Ryder, Harland and the teen drove home after visiting a friend at the hospital in Christchurch.
Ryder drove initially. Harland said he was tired and lurching down the road, so she asked him to stop so she could take over.
The crash happened about half an hour later. Their car collided head-on with a van on Main South Rd (SH1) in Bankside, Selwyn, about 10:10 PM.
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All Harland can remember of the crash is the flash of oncoming headlights and a creaking sound.
Ryder, who was in the front passenger seat, was killed in the crash. Harland and the teenager, who was in the back seat and believed to be not wearing a seat belt, were rushed to Christchurch Hospital.
Harland was in a coma for four days. She also suffered “major” ligament damage to one of her knees, black eyes, bruises and lacerations to her chest. The teen suffered a broken arm and a cracked pelvis and was “lucky to be alive,” she said.
Ryder was a “hard worker” who had spent the past six months working as a painter and decorator in Timaru, Harland said. He grew up in Christchurch and was a patched member of a Christchurch branch of the Mongrel Mob.
Ryder, who had two children of her own, was also a loving stepfather to her children, she said.
“He was amazing and funny… and loved me unconditionally. He would have done anything for us.
“Our lives will never be the same without him. We miss him so much already.”
Ryder was a talented footballer growing up and loved watching live games and other sports such as boxing, MMA and wrestling.
A private service was held in Christchurch last Tuesday to celebrate Ryder’s life.
He is survived by parents Julie-ann and Carl, Harland, brother Caleb, children Jazmyn and Tilly, and stepchildren Maddie, Bella and Trim (Jackson).
At least 183 people have died on New Zealand’s roads so far this year, 15 more than the same time last year. About 25 of those died on roads in Canterbury.
According to the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency crash data, there have been at least 34 accidents since January 2000, including two fatalities and one serious, on the section of Main South Rd between Weavers and Breadings roads.