The Alaskan partner of Rutger Hale, who was killed by a
mystery object between Hawea and Wanaka almost two weeks ago,
believes the mystery would be solved if the driver of a white
utility came forward.
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Danielle
Oylear (25) recalled seeing an object about the size of a
brick and the colour of cardboard smash through the
windscreen of their Subaru, killing 22-year-old Mr Hale.
She believes the object came from the back of the white
utility and that the driver must be aware by now the
utility's occupants were involved.
''They are kind of a key.''
Ms Oylear said the driver might be fearful of coming forward.
''I'd be scared as well of coming forward, not knowing what
it meant for my life.
''But it's important for us and our lives to figure out what
''It's not going to bring him back but it's going to help us
''He was an amazing person, and to not know why his life was
cut so short ...''
Rutger Hale's partner, Danielle Oylear, of Alaska, in
Wanaka yesterday with Mr Hale's great-uncle, Pete Phillips,
of Makarora. Photo by Mark Price.
Ms Oylear said she was ''struggling'' with the fact an
intensive police search of the roadside failed to find the
''I don't want to see the worst in people but I guess the
smaller the percentage chance of finding it out there, the
larger percentage chance someone has taken it.''
Ms Oylear said she and Mr Hale were travelling from Lake
Hawea towards Wanaka, with the Subaru's lights on, about
6.25am on October 24. As their vehicle began to climb
Maungawera Hill, they saw a utility coming down the hill
''It was a white truck, like a newer, nicer truck.
''In my mind, the closest thing I can relate it to is like a
Chevy, like an American truck, not like a ute, not like a
''It had full siding. I didn't see any details or anything on
The vehicle was the only one the couple encountered that
morning and Ms Oylear said she paid attention to it.
The vehicle seemed to be slowing down. Neither vehicle was
Mr Hale ''inched off'' to the left to give the utility more
The next thing she saw was ''something flying towards our
windshield and I put my arm up because I could see it coming.
''It looked kind of like a brick or a two-by-four or
something of that size.
''And it looked like it came off the back of the truck.''
Ms Oylear said the object hit their windscreen when the
bonnet of their car and the back of the utility were next to
each other - the car slightly lower.
''Because of the precise timing, because it was exactly when
this truck was passing us, and the fact that I saw it coming
from an angle at the height of this truck, I can't imagine
[the object coming from elsewhere].
''There are lots of unexplained things that happen in the
world and you can't discount other possibilities, but it
looked like a fairly big object and I can't imagine that
getting kicked up off the road.''
Ms Oylear said the light from the headlights might have
affected her perception of the object's colour, but she
considered the colour was ''kind of like cardboard''.
Unlike Ms Oylear, Mr Hale did not react to the object.
''The car didn't swerve; he didn't put on the brakes; he
didn't react at all.''
It was Ms Oylear who brought the vehicle to a halt, taking
the wheel and moving Mr Hale's foot off the accelerator.
She considered running down the road in the direction in
which the utility went.
''But I had to be there for Rutger. I couldn't leave him.''
The couple had been together since meeting in a backpackers
in New Zealand in February last year, and had intended
settling at Lake Hawea.
''He was my soulmate. I knew from the moment I met him, he
was a keeper. We just connected on every level possible.''
Police have interviewed the driver of a white utility but Ms
Oylear said police had told her they did not think it was the
Ms Oylear said she had moved into a house in Lake Hawea and
intended to go back to work at the Hawea Flat dairy farm
where the couple were heading when Mr Hale died.