James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Truckie's tragic end on the lake he loved

Lake Ohakuri. Photo / Supplied
Lake Ohakuri. Photo / Supplied

Andrew Wroe once said on Facebook that he was looking forward to going to "the lake" to catch up with his mates, sink a few beers, do some wakeboarding and get into a bit of mischief.

Now, the Rotorua truck driver is dead, killed in a boating accident on Monday at Lake Ohakuri when the sea biscuit he was being towed on and a boat collided at the Whirinaki Arm, about 3km east of the lake's hydro dam.

He could not be resuscitated by his friends or the St John Ambulance paramedics who had flown from Taupo to try to save him.

A post-mortem examination later revealed the 36-year-old died of severe chest trauma.

A post on Mr Wroe's Facebook page on December 12, 2010, said: "Looking forward to the lake very soon going to be some good people, a few drinks, a bit of wakeboarding and hotpooling and some mischief I'm sure.

"See you all there I'll bring the funnel ..."

His father, Les Wroe, yesterday told the Herald from his Waipawa home his son was "a good bastard" and his death had devastated his family and friends.

"He was a real top, top guy. In our death notice we have put loved son and mate," Mr Wroe said.

"He has two brothers, Lathan and Chris, and they are absolutely shattered."

The family were yesterday preparing themselves for the return of Andrew Wroe's body before his funeral on Saturday.

Mr Wroe said his son and his friends would often travel to Lake Ohakuri around Christmas where they would camp at a reserve on private property after the main campground on the lake closed about five years ago.

"They had built like a permanent dwelling up there and they all went out there and had a great time," he said.

"That was their relaxation, it was where they went to have fun. Actually he was to have gone back to work on Monday."

Maria Pattie, who lives near the campsite where Andrew Wroe and his friends would gather at the lake, said the two boats involved in the accident belonged to people holidaying with him. She said she enjoyed the group's company and would often visit them at their campsite to have a chat and a few drinks.

"They were just out trying to have a good time. There is going to be an investigation but I don't know what happened and at the end of the day it is an accident," Ms Pattie said.

Andrew Wroe's Facebook page shows pictures of trucks he had bought and refurbished, including a Mack Ultraliner.

He also spent several years doing interstate long hauls across the United States and had a recent stint driving with a friend in Ireland.

Mr Wroe said his son "was born to drive a truck".

"He used to sit with me when I was driving trucks when he was 5 years old and used to watch everything I did and he was determined to be a truck driver," Mr Wroe said.

"He went over to the States for the summers and [would] come back here for our summers.

"The time I was there over two weeks he drove 13,000 miles [20,921km] in two weeks. He loved it but decided to flag it in the end and settle down a bit - it didn't happen."

Detective Sergeant John Wilson of Rotorua police said an investigation into the accident was continuing.

Maritime New Zealand has been advised and is working with the police, as are Waikato Regional Council harbourmasters.

Andrew Wroe's funeral is to be held at Stonehaven in Waipukurau at 2pm on Saturday.

His body will then be taken to the Waipawa cemetery for burial.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 20 Aug 2014 19:23:18 Processing Time: 5535ms