Longboarding tragedy: 'Watching Tristan skate was like art, so graceful'

By Gia Garrick

A longboarder who died while skating down a steep Kapiti Coast road was last night lovingly remembered by his family and friends.

Tristan Hunter, 21, died on Friday night while skating down Maungakotukutuku Rd, near Paraparaumu.

The talented rider fell off his longboard and was hit by by a car following him.

The young rider had aspirations to become a pro longboard rider and was regarded as one of New Zealand's best.

Hunter's girlfriend, Isabell Herstell, described him as everyone's champion.

"He saw the absolute best in everyone. To him, anyone could do anything," she said.

"He was so talented, and so passionate, watching him skate was like art, he's just so graceful.

"He was always positive. He had this smile that's infectious. I've never met anyone like him."

Friends and family said he was happiest when longboarding. He'd skated some of the steepest slopes in the country.

Tristan's parents Kim and Shane Hunter, sisters, other family members and friends gathered at his Raumati South home yesterday to remember him.

Isabell Herstell and Tristan. Photo / Supplied
Isabell Herstell and Tristan. Photo / Supplied

His parents were in Queenstown when they heard the news of Tristan's death and his sister, Melissa Hunter, was in Tauranga.

Hunter is at least the third longboarder to die on New Zealand roads in the past four years and his death is reigniting debate about the safety of the growing sport.

In 2012, 18-year-old James Robert Eising died when he crashed while competing in the Sugar Factory Outlaw competition in Birkenhead.

In April 2014, 20-year-old Marcus David Jones died in Palmerston North Hospital a day after falling off his longboard.

New Zealand Transport Agency guidelines for skateboarding on the road require a person riding on the road to stay as close to the edge as possible.

Police have previously criticised longboarders for taking too many risks in their hunt for thrills.

A member of the Wellington Longboard Association yesterday posted to Facebook that it could not comment on Hunter's accident but said: "Our community believes safety is paramount however, and continues to advocate to others to skate within their limits and practice this sport as safely as possible."

Kapiti police and the Serious Crash Unit are investigating.

Hunter was well-liked and thought of as a leader in New Zealand's longboarding community and got his friends in the wider Wellington region into longboarding.

Tristan Hunter was happiest when he was longboarding on some of the steepest slopes, say his family. Photo / Supplied
Tristan Hunter was happiest when he was longboarding on some of the steepest slopes, say his family. Photo / Supplied

Friend Taylor Franks said he was held in high regard by some of the best skaters in the world.

A longboarder who died while skating down a steep Kapiti Coast road was last night lovingly remembered by his family and friends.

"He taught me everything I know. It's a bit of a shake up, a wake up call for sure."

Hunter was set to travel to California next month to chase his riding dream, said Franks.

"He made the decision in the last month or so, that he was finally going to do it, put all of his money towards it and go to California," he said.

Friend Jake Reilly said skating and fishing drove Tristan, but mostly skating.

"It's such a huge loss."

Melissa Hunter said her brother had been on cloud nine about the upcoming trip California.

- Herald on Sunday

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