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Kiwi in stable condition following Kenya mall shooting

Published: 5:20AM Monday September 23, 2013 Source: ONE News / Fairfax

A Hawke's Bay man shot by terrorists while lying on the ground of a mall in Kenya is expected to recover.

Andrew McLaren and his wife Kathy were in a coffee shop in a Westgate mall in Nairobi on Saturday (local time), when al Qaeda-linked militants stormed the building.

Mr McLaren, 34, was shot in the back while he was lying on the floor.

Parts of the bullet exited via the front of his rib cage but "miraculously" missed his heart, his mother Elaine McLaren-Crawley said.

"I have been told that Andrew is expected to make a full recovery from his wound. He was very, very lucky," she said.

"We are not expecting him home anytime soon ... I can't wait for them to get back."

A nurse at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi told ONE News today that Mr McLaren is feeling "much, much better" and is likely to be operated on tomorrow.

It is believed at least 68 people were killed and 150 wounded in the incident, with an unknown number of hostages still being held today.

Somalia's al Shabaab movement has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Another New Zealander, Greg Aldous, survived the massacre by hiding among supermarket boxes.

'Wrong place, wrong time'

Mrs McLaren-Crawley first heard the news that her son had been shot when her second son, Ben, rang at 11.30pm on Saturday.

"Kathy told me Andrew had not been specifically targeted....I'm told there was random shooting going on and it was unfortunate Andrew copped a bullet as he lay on the ground," she said.

"Andrew and Kathy were looking out for each other as they lay on the floor during the shooting."

Mrs McLaren-Crawley said it appeared her son was merely in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

When her son and daughter-in-law left New Zealand earlier this year it never crossed the mother's mind that they might be caught up in a militant attack.

"I am just so grateful that Andrew lived through this. I can't begin to think how terrible it must be for people who lost loved ones," she said.

The couple were scheduled to leave Nairobi on Friday to return to their Kerikeri home in Northland where Mr McLaren works for the avocado oil company Olivado.

They had been in Kenya for five months while Mr McLaren was managing the Olivado factory there.

Sarah Nichols, general manager of Olivado, said she remains confident Mr McLaren will recover well.

"He's a very easy-going guy and while I think he's obviously in shock right now, he will come thorugh this really well," she said.

'Good guy'

Messages of support have flooded in to Mr McLaren from his mates in the Havelock North Rugby Club.

On the rugby club's website, Kathy McLaren thanked everyone for their support on Facebook.

"We feel very loved," she added.

Mark Harris, from the rugby club, described Mr McLaren as a "hell of a good guy".

"Andrew's a real people's person and we know damn well he's going to come through this and he's going to be back in the clubrooms telling us a good story about it."

Ben McLaren is standing by to fly to Nairobi to be at his brother's bedside.

British High Commission staff in Kenya were taking care of the Kerikeri based couple.

The New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria was also assisting Mr McLaren and his family yesterday.

Mr McLaren is the second person associated with the New Zealand owned Olivado factory to be attacked since it was established six years ago.

In 2007 a director's father, Julian Nathan, was clubbed to death by armed robbers while he, son Chris Nathan and Olivado directors and staff visited Nairobi to set up the oil processing plant.

The company invested in Kenya because New Zealand and Australian avocado growers couldn't meet its demand for cheap, good quality, seconds-grade fruit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was warning Kiwis in Nairobi to be particularly security conscious and avoid the Westgate shopping mall.