HE’S been lauded as a hero for saving the lives of a mother and her two young children among the collapsed wreck of the CTV building but unassuming Christchurch man Evan McLellan says he was just doing what anybody else would.
Mr McLellan is among 140 people who have been recognised for their heroism, service or kindness following last February’s devastating earthquake at the Christchurch Earthquake Awards on Wednesday on the first anniversary of the magnitude 6.3 quake which claimed 185 lives.
Mr McLellan was nominated by the woman he saved, Kendyll Mitchell.
He was working as a plasterer at the now-demolished St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Church, on the corner of Cashel and Madras Streets, across from the CTV building, when the quake hit.
It caused the walls and roof of the church to collapse – but the damage was far worse across the intersection.
“When the ground stopped shaking, we made an exit out on to the street, and we were standing around in a little group congratulating each other on surviving an earthquake, as you do, and the next minute the CTV building dropped,” Mr McLellan told AAP.
“And I couldn’t believe what I was watching at all, it didn’t really register for a couple of seconds.”
But he acted quickly, rushing to the aid of those trapped.
Mr McLellan helped a number of Relationship Services staff down from the building’s fifth floor, before searching the back of the building, where a fire was smouldering.
“There was a piece of electrical conduit being waved in the air, and I pulled the roofing iron back and saw Ms Mitchell and the two children looking up at me,” he says.
After carrying her three-year-old and 10-month-old children to safety, Mr McLellan carried Ms Mitchell – who had a broken pelvis – from the rubble.
He then turned his attention to finding other survivors and helping try to dampen down the fire in the building, assisting in the rescue for about five hours.
Despite his work to save lives at a building which claimed 115 that day, Mr McLellan plays down talk that he’s a hero.
“It’s just another day,” he said.
“You do things in life without looking for recognition. I don’t know what this award is all about – I’m doing it for Kendyll.”