Three weeks ago, a young couple - one from Auckland and one
from Alaska - turned up on the doorstep of Devon Dairy Farms,
at Hawea Flat, near Wanaka, and approached manager Mike
''They just walked off the street and asked for a job, so I
gave it to them.''
Then, early on Thursday morning, Mr Thompson was shocked to
learn his 22-year-old farm worker, Rutger Hale, had been
killed while driving to work.
Mr Hale was hit by an unidentified object believed to have
crashed through both the front and rear windscreens of his
''It takes a while to sink in. It's tough to take,'' Mr
Thompson told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.
He described Mr Hale as ''very nice'' and his 26-year-old
Alaskan partner, Danielle, who was in the car but unharmed,
After the incident, Mr Thompson accompanied Danielle, who Mr
Hale called Deezy Dee, to the police station.
He and other dairy farm employees were assisting her where
Mr Thompson said she was ''not flash'' at this stage.
''It was a bit of a shock to her.''
Mr Thompson said Mr Hale's partner was staying with her
''We've just got to stand beside her and help her out the
best we can.''
Mr Thompson did not know how the couple came to end up in the
Wanaka region but he said Mr Hale was an experienced dairy
worker who had been in Australia.
''He had just always loved Central [Otago], he told us.''
Mr Thompson described Mr Hale as a ''very good'' worker.
He had no theories on what caused Mr Hale's death.
Mr Hale's Facebook page says he was from Moana, on the West
Coast of the North Island, but had lived in Portland, Oregon.