Rutger Hale and his Alaskan girlfriend, Danielle.
Police yesterday paid tribute to the presence of mind of
the 26-year-old Alaskan girlfriend of the man killed in
mysterious circumstances on SH6 between Wanaka and Lake Hawea
early on Thursday.
The 22-year-old man who died, Rutger Hale, of Auckland, was
hit by an unknown object that crashed through the windscreen
of his Subaru station wagon and appears to have exited
through the rear windscreen.
Detective Sergeant Brian Cameron told a press conference in
Wanaka yesterday of the actions of Mr Hale's partner,
Danielle, after he was fatally injured.
''She has had to take control of the vehicle, grabbing ...
the steering wheel whilst attempting to lift the driver's
foot from the accelerator.
''She's done a remarkable job of steering the vehicle to its
final resting place without being involved in a secondary
Danielle, who Mr Hale called Deezy Dee, was in the front
passenger seat when she made the split-second move to take
control of the car. She was uninjured in the accident.
Mr Hale, who was working as a farmhand, and Danielle had been
staying at the Lake Hawea Holiday Park.
Mr Hale was from the small West Coast town of Moana, but
later moved to Auckland with his family and attended Lynfield
Mr Hale's last Facebook message said he was ''back down to
the dirty south'' with his 26-year-old Alaskan girlfriend,
who had bought the Subaru they were travelling in just five
weeks before the fatal crash.
His girlfriend was also able to tell police of a white
four-wheel-drive utility in the area at the time of the
Police interviewed the drivers of about 55 cars near the
scene of the incident yesterday morning and Det Sgt Cameron
said ''at least one'' person had approached police to say
they were the owner or driver of a white utility that used
the road and one person was being interviewed.
''It's not known at this stage if it is the white utility we
are interested in or not.''
Police have yet to determine what the object was that struck
Det Sgt Cameron said the hole in the Subaru's windscreen was
described by one of those first on the scene as
''Clearly there has been some contact with the interior of
the vehicle as it has travelled through and exited through
the rear window, which has been smashed in its entirety.''
While police were keeping an open mind on the cause of Mr
Hale's death, nothing had been found to indicate
''While this is a mysterious incident, it is not a suspicious
Asked if Mr Hale might have been hit by a bullet, Det Sgt
Cameron said that was ''an extremely unlikely scenario''.
A pathologist carried out a postmortem examination yesterday
afternoon and a team from the Institute of Environmental
Science and Research, in conjunction with the Serious Crash
Unit and Vehicle Testing New Zealand, was due to examine the
car this morning.
Results from the postmortem and any further information were
not likely to be available over the next few days, Det Sgt