He stood up and yelled ‘I’m okay’

Mike Bainbridge was a man known for having the kindheartedness and skill to fix anything. But when he telephoned for help after a motorcycle crash on Landlyst Rd on August 30, nobody could fix Mike. The crash was reported about 3pm. Among emergency services to respond were an ambulance from Whangamatā, police and a rescue helicopter. The Waihi Beach resident and owner of Waihi’s most eclectic hardware store had returned from a ride that day all the way to Whitianga with motorcycle friends. He was in Waihi and was wearing the best protective gear available when his bike left the one-way road, travelled down a hill and hit a bush. Family, including partner Gay and daughters Lorian and Megan, have been inundated with calls from friends in the Waihi community asking how it could have happened. Parents Frank and Sheila Bainbridge are also questioning how their son – who rode in horse trials, had hang-glided, enjoyed mountain biking and rode motorcycles – died on a one-way road with little damage to his bike. “I can’t understand how it happened,” says Sheila. “He stood up and phoned Gay to get an ambulance. The woman across the road said he yelled out and said ‘I’m okay’. “It was a one-way road and he went down the hill and hit a bush. He couldn’t have been going very fast because the bike was all intact, even the sat nav was not smashed up. I just can’t accept it. “He was so meticulous, everybody had to do everything right, and he’s been riding motorbikes for 30 or 40 years,” says Sheila. “He had the best gear you could possibly buy.” Frank says his son, who grew up under the influence of his farming dad, could shear sheep, ride horses well, make jewellery, fix and build, and was always so helpful to anyone who walked through the store’s doors. Friends organised a gathering at Mike’s store on Saturday to share memories of the much-loved Mr Fixit who would buy goods at auction and give advice, solutions and friendship. “Just because the store was shut, didn’t mean he wasn’t open,” says dad Frank. “People would see if his van was parked around the back and he’d let them in.” Daughter Lorian says she had the best childhood with a dad like Mike: “It was pretty amazing with all the activities – boating, mountain biking, horses. She added: “Dad’s always just been there to help with anything. You have a broken whatever and he fixed it.” Frank is thankful to have spent a few hours with Mike in his store prior to the day of the accident. “He had said it several times, ‘I wouldn’t care if I died tomorrow, I’ve had a fabulous life.’ You can’t ask for more than that.”
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