Family of young snowboarder inundated with support

Hamish Bagley. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Hamish Bagley. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
A young Olympic snowboarding hopeful from Wanaka who was killed in a fiery car crash would have celebrated his 18th birthday today.

The "completely devastated" family of Hamish Bagley said they were still in shock after his death on the Lindis Pass in Otago, which had left them planning a funeral instead of an 18th birthday bash.

His father Roy, who was in the United States when the crash happened, said the news had come as "a hell of a shock".

However, he said the family had been "absolutely blown away" by the messages of condolence and tribute that has poured in from all around the world, from friends and colleagues of the snowboarding teen.

Hamish had been on the official long list of potential New Zealand competitors for the Sochi Olympics, but wasn't selected for the final 15.

"We've had huge support from all over the world. Hamish has touched so many people that we probably didn't realise."

Mr Bagley said quite a few of the international Olympians competing at Sochi had been in touch.

"We're getting all sorts of tributes and wonderful support and feelings through social media, and it's quite humbling."

Speaking from his Arrowtown home, Mr Bagley described his son as a quiet achiever, prepared to give anything a go, but who never blew his own trumpet.

"He just got on with his work, and it's quite lovely to see that he's finally getting a bit of coverage for what he achieved in his nearly 18 years," he said.

"I have always been proud of my son. As a sports person he's always had a good, honest attitude to his sport and given it everything, and it's now nice to see that people are coming out and supporting what he did and expressing their pleasure of having known him and competed against him, and with him."

Mr Bagley said the family had been inundated by messages from his son's friends, and said it was helping in part with the pain of losing him.

"I guess if you have to go through this as a parent, and you find this out, it gives you pride in a horrible time," Mr Bagley said.

"He's been around the world, competed around the world and met hundreds of people and done things that most people wouldn't have probably achieved in their whole life and he only had 18 years.

"There was still a lot of potential in him, which we'll never see, unfortunately."

Hamish, who was also a keen skateboarder, died when he was thrown from his car as it left the road on the Lindis Pass on Sunday night. The car rolled down a bank and exploded.

- Patrice Dougan, APNZ

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