By 3 News online staff
Dunedin’s Tarei Gorge train came to a screeching halt yesterday after a teenager dropped his iPhone out the window, panicked and pulled the emergency stop lever.
Spencer Sutherland, 13, was framing the gorge’s scenery with his phone’s camera when the incident happened.
“I pulled the emergency thing that you only pull in extreme emergencies […] It is very important to me,” he told Otago Daily Times.
Mr Sutherland's family members and some overseas friends were also aboard and watched the incident unfold.
The train’s brakes deployed and it stopped 700 metres up the track.
Staff were alerted to Mr Sutherland’s slip of the hand and helped him search for the device but were unsuccessful - instead pinning their hopes on finding it on the return leg of the journey. The phone was later recovered.
Mr Sutherland was applauded by passengers when staff handed him the undamaged iPhone, which was a Christmas gift from 2010.
The chief executive of the train company, Murray Bond, says although Mr Sutherland’s behaviour is not encouraged, it meant his customer was happy.
“That is the spirit of Taieri Gorge Railway; that we do things other companies won't necessarily do,” he told Otago Daily Times.
KiwiRail, who operates most other passenger train services in New Zealand, says they would stop their train in the same circumstances if the timing was right.
“With the Tairei Gorge line, there’s only one train at one time so they can afford to do that,” a spokesperson says.
“We would try and help our customers but it would really depend on the circumstances and how many trains were using the line at the time.”