Oscar winner drowns while rafting

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The Waiohine River. File photo / Geoff Walker
The Waiohine River. File photo / Geoff Walker

The man who drowned while rafting near Wairarapa yesterday has been identified as 53-year-old Oscar-winning sound editor Michael Alexander Hopkins.

Mr Hopkins, from Greytown, was with two other females when the group ran into trouble on the Waiohine River.

He had been involved in major Hollywood films during a sound editing career spanning several decades, and won Oscars for his work on Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Stuff reported.

Rescue helicopter crew found Hopkins dead some distance downstream from his two companions. The two females were both recovered alive - one by a local jetboater.

Senior Sergeant Carolyn Watson thanked those involved in the rescue of the group.

Special mention was given to the jet boat operator ``who came to our aid and, at considerable risk to himself, was able to rescue the female,'' she said.

"All three were wearing life jackets, wetsuits and helmets at the time and it appears that Mr Hopkins got into trouble after they were ejected from the raft in a fast flowing eddie.

"Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time,'' Ms Watson said.

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