Cop a heroine to stranded granny

SENIOR Constable Christine Zecchinati has become a heroine to a grandmother who made an unexpected stopover in Coffs Harbour this week.

En-route to Raymond Terrace from the Gold Coast, 82-year-old Irene Kalamaras decided to take a rest stop while the bus was parked at Urara Park.

She returned after a few minutes to find the bus gone.

Mrs Kalamaras, suddenly stranded 400km from home, was left with only her handbag and the clothes she was wearing.

Anxious and upset, unable to contact the daughter she was about to visit and knowing no one in Coffs Harbour, Irene found her way to the Coffs Harbour Police Station and asked for help.

Speaking broken English, the Greek-born grandmother found it difficult to communicate her troubles to anyone but found a sympathetic ear in Constable Zecchinati.

The young policewoman swung into action organising Irene’s luggage to be collected at its destination and a motel room for the night. Formule 1 Motel manager, Melanie Burke, and her partner, Craig Mowles, duly looked after Irene and provided her with dinner.

On Tuesday, Sen Const. Zecchinati was able to take time out from her busy schedule to say goodbye to the grateful widow and see her safely board the bus to finish her journey to meet her daughter, Andrea Pitt.

Mrs Pitt said she was so grateful for Constable Zecchinati’s help and for being kept in contact with her mother.

Mrs Kalamaras said she did tell the driver she was getting off the bus but she hasn’t taken any action since, as she did not want him to lose his job or get in trouble over the incident.

“He is a very good man,” she said.

She also spoke highly of Formule 1, saying she had slept well and had been pleased to see the Greek news on TV.

The vice-president of marketing for Greyhound Australia, Gagan Singh, said the company had not known of the incident and would speak to the driver about making sure all passengers were on board.

He said all their coaches had on-board toilets but they did make efforts to also stop wherever possible.

“We do take these situations seriously,” Mr Singh said.

“Normally our drivers are really good with these things.”

Senior Constable Zecchinati said Coffs Harbour was an on-off stop for that bus, not a toilet stop so people usually did not get off unless leaving the bus.

She said assisting people in distress was part of the police brief.

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