The Alaskan partner of a man killed by a mystery object near Wanaka has urged the driver of a white ute to come 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 two weeks ago, killing 22-year-old Rutger Hale.
Oylear 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,” Olyear says.
Oylear says 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 happened.
“It’s not going to bring him back but it’s going to help us move forward. He was an amazing person, and to not know why his life was cut so short.”
Oylear says she’s “struggling” with the fact an intensive police search of the roadside failed to find the object.
“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.”
Oylear says she and 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 towards them.
“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 flatbed ute.
“It had full siding. I didn’t see any details or anything on it.”
The vehicle was the only one the couple encountered that morning and Oylear says she paid attention to it.
The vehicle seemed to be slowing down. Neither vehicle was travelling fast.
Hale “inched off” to the left to give the utility more room.
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.”
Oylear says 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.”
Oylear says 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 Oylear, 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 Oylear who brought the vehicle to a halt, taking the wheel and moving Hale’s foot off the accelerator.
Oylear 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 Oylear says police had told her they did not think it was the right vehicle.
Oylear says 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 Hale died.
– Otago Daily Times