Objects discounted in mystery death

Rutger Hale.
Rutger Hale.
An object of ''considerable mass'' but not a bullet, a meteor, an animal or a flying piece of ice.

Those are some of the conclusions reached by forensic experts looking for the object that killed Rutger Hale (22) a week ago this morning.

Mr Hale died while driving his Subaru up the Maungawera Hill on State Highway 6, from Lake Hawea towards Wanaka, about 6.20am on October 24.

A fist-sized hole in the windscreen, head injuries to Mr Hale and a shattered rear window indicated he was killed by an object passing through his car.

The head of the inquiry into Mr Hale's death, Detective Sergeant Brian Cameron, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the object ''remains a mystery''.

That is despite a postmortem examination of Mr Hale and a forensic examination of his car at the weekend.

However, Det Sgt Cameron said the examinations had given police ''some clues as to what we should be looking for'' and ''some indicators'' as to what the object was not.

Several theories had been discounted, including that it was a projectile from a firearm or an object from space.

''Anything that would have come in through the atmosphere would generate a reasonable amount of heat that would leave some trace.

''We're satisfied that it's unlikely to be a meteorite or any piece of space debris.''

Asked whether it might have been a piece of ice from an aeroplane, Det Sgt Cameron said ''they generally don't travel parallel to the ground''.

And nothing was found to suggest a bird or an animal was involved.

Det Sgt Cameron said the object had left marks during its passage through the car ''and from those marks, we are satisfied the item exited through the rear window''.

No trace of the object was found in the car.

Tests had not been able to determine whether the object was ''metal or mineral or otherwise''.

''All we know is that it's got considerable mass to have caused the damage that it has.''

The search of the road verge in the vicinity of the incident is expected to continue today.

Det Sgt Cameron said it was ''probably inappropriate'' to say before the search had been completed if any objects of interest had been found.

The first motorist on the scene of the accident last Thursday is also baffled as to what the object could have been.

''There's a few theories going round but I didn't really see what happened, so I have no idea,'' Lake Hawea woman Anita Brenssell (21) said.

''I'm just going to wait until they [police] find something, if they find something.''

Miss Brenssell was travelling from Wanaka along SH6 when she came across the accident just after 6.30am, about 10 minutes after it happened, she estimated.

She first noticed the vehicle's smashed front and rear windscreens and saw Ms Oylear crying and in a panicked state outside the vehicle, next to the driver's side door.

Mr Hale was bleeding and still alive at that time, Miss Brenssell said.

''[Ms Oylear] was talking to him trying to get him to stay alive ... and she was on the phone to the ambulance at the same time.''

Miss Brenssell gave Ms Oylear some clean cloths from her own vehicle to help stop the bleeding, before a second motorist and the emergency services arrived on the scene.

A funeral for Rutger Hale is being held in Auckland today.

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