Passenger remarkable’ when object killed driver – police

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The girlfriend of driver killed by a mystery flying object near Wanaka has done a “remarkable job” taking over from her passenger seat.
 
Police investigating the bizarre fatality yesterday praised the actions of victim Rutger Hale’s Alaskan girlfriend Danielle. 

“She has had to take control of the vehicle, grabbing….the steering wheel whilst attempting to lift he driver’s foot from the accelerator,” detective sergeant Brian Cameron told media in Wanaka. 

“She’s done a remarkable job of steering the vehicle to its final resting place without being involved in a secondary crash.” 

Danielle, a 26-year-old from Alaska, was in the front passenger seat of the Subaru Legacy when the object crashed through the windscreen leaving what one witness described as a fist-size hole. 

It has hit Hale before exiting through the rear windscreen. 

Danielle, uninjured in the incident, had been staying with Hale at the Lake Hawea Holiday Park. 

The pair was heading towards Wanaka along State Highway 6’s Lake Hawea-Albert Town Road about 6.25am on Thursday when it happened. 

Soon afterwards, police expressed interest in the driver of a white ute heading in the opposite direction, which had headed out of Wanaka on the north side of the Maungawera Hill between 6.15am and 6.45am on that Thursday. 

Cameron said yesterday at least one person had approached police to say they were the owner of a white utility that used the road and a person was being interviewed. 

“It’s not known at this stage if it is the while utility we are interested in or not,” he says. 

Police still haven’t found or determined what the object was that struck Hale.
 
Cameron says police are keeping an open mind on the cause of death but had found nothing to suggest premeditation. 

“While this is a mysterious incident, it is not a suspicious incident.” 

A pathologist carried out a post-mortem yesterday and a team from the Institute of Environmental Science and
Research joined by crew from the Serious Crash Unit and Vehicle Testing New Zealand were due to examine the car today.