Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Girlfriend wants to stay on

Boyfriend died at her side but US woman intends to live life they had planned together.

Rutger Hale, with his girlfriend Danielle Oylear, died when an unknown object crashed through their car windscreen near Wanaka.
Rutger Hale, with his girlfriend Danielle Oylear, died when an unknown object crashed through their car windscreen near Wanaka.

The American girlfriend of an Auckland man killed in a freak accident in Wanaka wants to stay in New Zealand, and intends to show her mother the place where they had planned a life together.

Danielle Oylear, 26, was in the front passenger seat early on Thursday morning when an object smashed through the windscreen of the car she had recently bought with boyfriend Rutger Telford Hale, 22, killing him and smashing through the back window.

She was forced to grab the steering wheel and lift his foot from the accelerator to bring the car to a stop. Ms Oylear was uninjured.

The couple had recently moved to Hawea, near Wanaka, and were living the life they had always wanted, according to a close family member.

Peter Phillips, a great-uncle of Mr Hale, yesterday described the pair as having "a real bond" and being "joined at the hip" since they met while Mr Hale was travelling across the US.

He said Ms Oylear had loved living in New Zealand with Mr Hale so much that she wanted to stay.

"At this stage, she would love to stay, but of course there's a whole lot of other issues around immigration. But she would like to [stay]," he said.

"She's really hoping that she's got the strength to stay."

The Alaskan woman - known as Deezy Dee to her friends - has been staying with her late boyfriend's family since the incident, and asked her mother to fly to New Zealand to support her.

Her mother arrived in Auckland on Saturday and has been staying with the Hale family. Ms Oylear, with Mr Hale's mother and sister, flew to Auckland from Wanaka yesterday to start making funeral arrangements.

It is expected a service will take place in Auckland this week. After that Ms Oylear wants to return some of Mr Hale's ashes to Hawea.

"She wants to bring some of his ashes back down here so we can have a service for him in Hawea as well, which is where they were hoping to start their new life," Mr Phillips said.

"She needs some closure around all of it, because she hasn't just lost a partner. What she had to endure in that hour you wouldn't wish to happen to anybody."

Ms Oylear was "really adamant" about having some form of service for Mr Hale in the South Island area he loved "before she can begin the next part of her life", he said.

She also wants to take her mum to Hawea to show her the life she and Mr Hale had begun together, he said.

"She wants her to see where they were going to live and where they were looking forward to doing everything together."

The family in Hawea had already held a small blessing service where Mr Hale died, Mr Phillips said.

"We had an amazing blessing down at the site for him. That was really helpful for his mum, sister and her [Ms Oylear] and myself, to get a bit of closure," he said about the Friday ceremony.

He added it had been "a beautiful experience".

Mr Hale was from the small West Coast town of Moana but moved to Auckland with his family and attended Lynfield College.

He was working as a farmhand at Devon Dairy Farms, and he and Ms Oylear had been staying at the Lake Hawea Holiday Park in recent weeks.

The well-travelled and popular young man had recently returned to New Zealand after a road trip around the US.


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