They should have been celebrating his 18th birthday.
Instead, some schoolmates and friends of top Wakatipu snowboarder Hamish Bagley – who was killed in a car smash – were yesterday planning to go to the accident site in the Lindis Pass.
Wakatipu High outdoor education teacher Ken McIntyre, who taught Hamish in his final year at the school last year, tells Mountain Scene yesterday: “We have a lot of upset students at the school and friends and some of them are going to visit the crash site. Sometimes something like that can give a bit of closure.”
McIntyre recalls Hamish, a Youth Winter Olympian in 2012 and national under-14 halfpipe champion, as a great kid at school: “He wasn’t a slacker, he had a really good work ethic.
“If I wanted to think of two words that described him it would be quiet and unassuming. It’s quite incredible if you think about snow sports – particularly the ones he was into – like slopestyle and halfpipe, you need a good ego,” he says.
“You’ve got to really put yourself out there.
“But with Hamish he was just so quiet and unassuming, he would just get on and do the business,” McIntyre adds.
“He was solid, a real solid kid.
“He had good personal qualities, the sort of personal qualities I like – not a massive ego and spinning out if things didn’t go his way. He’d be like ‘Well, I didn’t get this one, I’ll try harder next time’.
“Hamish squeezed an awful lot in – he’s done more living than most people would do in a life time.
“He’s had some good achievements [but] to me he was just a really nice guy and it’s very sad this has happened.”
Hamish, who starred when age 14 in a Weet-Bix kids television commercial skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing in 2010, had been on the long list ahead of this month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, but didn’t make the final 15.
When news broke that Hamish had been in a fatal accident when his car ran off State Highway 8, tributes flooded in on social media including a statement from the New Zealand Olympic Winter Team in Sochi.
Olympic Team Chef de Mission Pete Wardell said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Hamish at this sad time. He was a bright and talented young man who made a positive contribution to winter sport in New Zealand. He will be sorely missed.”
Hamish’s father Roy, who was in the United States at the time of the crash, told the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday his family had been absolutely blown away by messages of condolence and tributes from around the world.
“Hamish has touched so many people that we probably didn’t realise,” Roy says, describing his son as a quiet achiever who never blew his own trumpet.
“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,” Bagley told the NZ Herald.
The flood of messages from Hamish’s friends 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.
“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.
“There was still a lot of potential in him, which we’ll never see unfortunately.”
A funeral for Hamish is scheduled for 1pm this Saturday at Moonlight Country, Arrow Junction.