Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Snowboarder killed in fiery road crash

The remains of a car which rolled down a bank and burst into flames. Photo / Lucy Ibbotson
The remains of a car which rolled down a bank and burst into flames. Photo / Lucy Ibbotson

A teenager killed in a fiery Otago road crash yesterday was a competitive snowboarder who had a top-10 finish at the recent Youth Winter Olympics.

Arrowtown man Hamish Bagley, 17, was thrown from the car when it left the road on the Lindis Pass, rolled down a bank and exploded. He was killed in the crash.

The former Wakatipu High School student was a competitive snowboarder who had finished 10th in the snowboard halfpipe at the Youth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012.

His father Roy Bagley, who is making his way back to New Zealand from the United States, said it was too soon to talk.

A family member at Roy and Teresa Bagley's Arrowtown home also said they were not ready to talk.

However Snow Sports New Zealand issued a statement saying staff and athletes were deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss.

"Hamish was a member of the Snow Sports NZ High Performance Development team and had been competing on the World Cup circuit," Snow Sports NZ Chief Executive Marty Toomey said in the statement.

"Hamish was a dedicated athlete with a promising future ahead of him. Any young life taken early is tragic and our condolences go out to the Bagley family and his friends."

Friends and fellow snowboarders have paid tribute to Bagley on Twitter.

New Zealand Olympic snowboarder Rebecca "Possum" Torr, who is competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics, tweeted: "With a heavy heart I hear of a young life taken too soon. Rest in peace Hamish Bagley."

Snowboarder Brock Crouch tweeted: "We lost a great one last night. Rest in peace Hamish Bagley #Irideforhamishbagley."

McKenzie Raley said on Twitter: "You had so much more life to live.. Rest in Peace Hamish Bagley."

Sergeant Derek Ealson of Cromwell police said the crash victim was yet to be formally identified and police were unable to release his name until then.

Next of kin had been informed.

"Once we've got the formal identification completed, we'll be able to release the name formally."

Mr Ealson said the Subaru Impreza crashed north of the Cluden Hill summit about 5.30pm yesterday.

"Initial indications were that the vehicle had failed to take a bend and left the road, crashing into a fence and tree before coming to rest about 30 metres below the road at the bottom of a steep bank."

The car exploded and burst into flames as a following motorist approached, Mr Ealson said. A small scrub fire started, but was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

Speed and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash, Mr Ealson said.

"The vehicle will be examined, but at the time the road conditions, the weather was fine - the road was dry, there was little traffic, so none of those factors have played a part."

Police would like to hear from anyone who might have been driving in the area at the time and who might have witnessed the crash. Anyone with information could contact Cromwell police on (03) 445 1999.

- Additional reporting: Otago Daily Times

- APNZ

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