Marlborough couple struggle to call for help after internet cut off

Source: 1News

A couple living in a remote part of Marlborough say a life-threatening accident could have ended in disaster after they struggled to call for help.

Rai Valley residents Iris and Helmut Speiss said their phone, internet and broadband connections were "all cut off" without warning on March 26.

Lask week, Helmut was moving firewood when he was injured.

"The trailer took over and I was flying through the air and hit my head and my whole left side," he said.

The pair's neighbour, Faye Leo, came across the scene.

"We both believed he was dead. It was so frightening. His head was covered in blood," she said.

However, Leo was unable to use the landline, forcing her to run to find cellphone reception.

"Even when we rang the ambulance, the cover was really intermittent," she said.

"It was stopping and starting and he couldn't hear what we were saying and we were getting more and more desperate."

Helmut said had his accident been more serious, he "would be dead".

Iris said she was struggling to get the couple's house reconnected.

"We need a phone. Sorry, don't cut our phone off; it's our lifeline. You can't do that."

The pair said they were never told why it was disconnected in the first place.

After enquiries from 1News, Vodafone found that when the Speiss' neighbour asked to be disconnected in March, their home was also mistakenly disconnected.

Vodafone said while it did make attempts to contact the couple beforehand, it admits the reconnection process "was not properly managed" and "clearly did not get resolved as it should".

The telecommunications company has since apologised for the error.

While the Speiss' situation is isolated, some say it highlights a wider issue.

"We're not looking for the Rolls Royce solution here, you know... It's just the way it is, but not being able to check the weather; call for help; connect with whānau, your friends and your community - it does have a high impact on it," Marlborough Sounds resident Leanne Schmidt said.

The pair have since switched to Spark. They were reconnected on Friday.