Compassion from grief
Emma Woods, whose four-year-old son Nayan was killed by a teen driver who careened onto a footpath after losing control of his modified car, has been named New Zealander of the Year by The New Zealand Herald for her compassion and empathy toward the driver. Had Emma Woods turned her grief into a furious, bitter quest for the maximum prison sentence, no one would have blamed the 37-year-old Canadian immigrant to New Zealand. Anger would be normal, and expected. But Emma, in a remarkable act of compassion, decided the driver didn’t deserve to have his life ruined either. She not only took the time to get to know 17-year-old Ashley Austin, she consoled the teen in his grief and helped convince a court to keep the young man out of jail. “We wanted to give Ashley the opportunity to get out there and do as much good as he possibly could in this world,” Emma said.