‘Bit of a wanderer’ remembered 10 years on

Rutger Hale was killed in 2013 when an unidentified object flew through his car’s windscreen on...
Rutger Hale was killed in 2013 when an unidentified object flew through his car’s windscreen on State Highway 6 between Lake Hawea and Albert Town. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Ten years since his death on a Wānaka highway, Rutger Hale’s family are remembering a son, brother and nephew who had always been a "bit of a wanderer".

Mr Hale’s great-uncle, Peter Phillips, said his young nephew’s love of nature had drawn him to Upper Clutha, while his love of animals had made him a perfect fit for farm work.

"He loved the mountains, loved to walk," he said.

"They said he was great with the cows. It was incredible.

"He was in the prime of his life."

In 2013, the 22-year-old Mr Hale had just recently moved to Hāwea with his girlfriend, Danielle Oylear. The pair had been two weeks into jobs at a Wānaka dairy farm when tragedy struck.

About 6.45am on October 24 of that year, Mr Hale and Ms Oylear were travelling on State Highway 6 between Lake Hāwea and Albert Town, when an object flew through the windscreen of their car, striking Mr Hale on the head and killing him.

While a coroner’s report in 2015 ruled the object which killed Mr Hale had likely slid off the deck of a passing white utility truck, the object has never been found or identified.

Mr Phillips said despite the passage of time, there was still a chance someone in the community knew more about what happened on that fateful day.

"Two vehicles left that morning. One got home, one didn’t.

"To get a bit of closure would be nice."

On the anniversary of Mr Hale’s death, family members from across the country gathered at a memorial near the accident site to pay their respects.

Mr Phillips said it had been important for them to recognise the occasion, and celebrate the life of one taken from them far too soon.

"We’re still here and we’ll never forget you."