Double tragedy for honeymooner Kiwi

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Hayden Stockwell says his life is back to square one. He sleeps just one or two hours a night, and can't escape the ghastly images that invade his mind.

The 29-year-old is struggling to cope with a double tragedy _ his new wife, Rebecca, was killed in a snorkelling accident during their honeymoon in Fiji last December and three weeks ago his best friend Damian Radich died after falling from a hotel balcony in Brisbane.

"I hope they are looking after each other," says Hayden, who admits he is constantly asking, "why me?"

He was with Rebecca _ the "centre of my world" _ when she died and he found Damian's body the morning after his fatal fall. Rebecca, 26, was killed after she was run over by a boat at the Fijian island resort of Matamanoa.

"There is not a single moment of the day I am not thinking of about her," says Hayden.

"It is really unfair _ I loved her so much. It was such a random thing that happened because we were the only ones in the water and there were not supposed to be any boats where we were."

The boat driver is facing a manslaughter charge, but Hayden accepts it was purely an accident.

"I know the guy didn't mean to do it. I saw his face after it happened and that was all I needed to know. I think if I felt bitter about what happened, it would make things worse."

Rebecca's death has led to strained relations with some of her family. He says her father "won't talk to me _ he won't even look at me. I have nothing to do with him".

He says he had been slowly moving on with life after Rebecca's death until Damian, his friend since school, died.

"Now I am back to square one," says Hayden, now back in Blenheim. "I am back to where I was a year ago, really. Relaxing is not easy for me; it's a really hard thing for me to do."

Damian, 29, was supposed to be his best man at Hayden's wedding, but couldn't afford the trip. "He was outgoing, energetic, a clown _ he was very funny; he made us laugh."

The pair had been drinking with another friend at the Brisbane hotel on October 25 when Damian disappeared.

Hayden, who had been holidaying in Australia for three months, thought his friend had gone for a wander "like he does. He loved jumping off things. That night, he would have tried to jump into the swimming pool and he would have just slipped."

Hayden found the body the next morning and can't escape the image.

"Everything went through my mind _ just exactly the same [as Rebecca's death]. Everything just goes around and around in your mind."

Hayden will return to Fiji with his family in two weeks to mark the first anniversary of Rebecca's death.

"I am going by myself to the [Matamanoa] Island. I am going to take her flowers and put them in the water where the accident happened."

There are so many dates he has to contend with _ wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas and New Year. Next year he will be a witness in the manslaughter trial.

He visits Rebecca's grave constantly and watches their wedding on video, so he can hear her voice.

"I tell her I love her and I miss her deeply. I talk to her about everything really about what's going on. I find it easy to go there to see her but I find it hard to leave."

Hayden has tried medication and counselling, but stopped.

"I do have great support and I try to cope as best as I can and help others out as much as I can really. It's not just about me; it's the extended families as well."

A builder, Hayden will return to part-time work this week. "I need to get back to reality and normality and see where things take me. It's not going to be easy."

- Herald on Sunday

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