Backpacker dies as holiday of a lifetime ends in tragedy

By Dan Goldberg, August 15, 2008
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A 23-year-old backpacker from Essex has been killed in a quad-bike accident in New Zealand.
Sarah Bond, from Newbury Park,

lost control of the bike near the Waitomo Caves on the North Island and plunged more than 30 metres down a steep bank. She died when the bike landed on top of her.

She had financed her trip by supplementing her full-time job at Barclays Bank with part-time bar work.

Her heartbroken parents Elizabeth, 51, and Jack, 55, paid tribute to "our beautiful, vivacious daughter who lived life to the full". Mr Bond, who is on the board of Ilford Federation Synagogue, said: "It was to have been her holiday of a lifetime and words can't describe how devastated we are.

"Once Sarah set her mind on doing something, she gave it her all. She was like that with everything, including her relationships. The 200-plus messages sent by friends to her Facebook site since the accident is proof of this."

Mrs Bond said: "She was so excited about going to the other side of the world. Words can't describe what we are going through, but I'd like to thank our wonderful friends and family for all of the support they've shown."

Stephen Goodman, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said her body was prepared by the Chevra Kadisha. "Rabbi Mendel Goldstein came from Christchurch because the family wanted Chabad to be involved, and he sat with the body before it was prepared."

Rabbi Goldstein, the only Chabad rabbi in New Zealand, said the British embassy contacted him at the family's request and he flew to Hamilton.

"I also spoke to Jack, her father, to give him an idea that we were doing our very best to make sure the body could come back as quickly as possible," said Mr Goodman.

Members of the Auckland Jewish community held a memorial service on Monday night. She was only 10 days into a 10-month backpacking adventure to Australia and New Zealand. She was participating in a programme called the Kiwi Experience - a coach trip with extreme activities such as bungee-jumping and sky-diving.

The quad-biking was arranged through Waitomo Big Red. In a statement, the company said: "We are devastated at Miss Bond's death."

The firm has suspended all operations while the Labour Department investigates the crash.

Miss Bond, who has two sisters, Caroline, 25, and Alexandra, 18, attended Barkingside Jewish youth club as a youngster.

    Last updated: 1:43pm, August 14 2008