Kayak death second blow for Kurow community

By Shannon Gillies

A kayak outside the Kurow police station yesterday is understood to be the one Smith was using when he died in the Waitaki River on Sunday. Photo / Shannon Gillies, ODT
A kayak outside the Kurow police station yesterday is understood to be the one Smith was using when he died in the Waitaki River on Sunday. Photo / Shannon Gillies, ODT

The Kurow community has lost a second sportsman in tragic circumstances within 17 months.

Lock and captain of the Kurow Rugby Club, Marshall Robert Smith (32), of Waimate, died late on Sunday afternoon while on a kayaking trip on the Waitaki River near Kurow.

His death follows that of Jarrad Ethan Blackler (23), of Waitaki, who died from injuries received in a crash in the Hakataramea Valley when, along with four other men and one woman, he was thrown out of a 4WD in a crash in May last year.

Both men were members of the Kurow Rugby Club.

The family of Smith last night asked for privacy. His mother, Marjorie Smith, earlier told Fairfax the family was struggling with the loss.

''It's a huge loss for us, and for the community. He was very outgoing,'' she said.

Smith was a regular lock for the Kurow premier rugby team that made the Citizens Shield semifinals earlier this year, and scored a century in the final to lead Glenavy to the North Otago senior reserve cricket title last summer.

Kurow coach Kevin Malcolm said the club was banding together to support Mr Smith's family, partner and team-mates.

''We're doing what we can. We're bringing them together and making sure they're supported at this time.''

Malcolm said Smith was ''the tallest player in the valley, and he made sure everyone knew that''.

''He's a larger-than-life character who was just warm and friendly to everyone and we just really enjoyed his company.''

Malcolm had coached Smith for the past three years.

He said given how close Smith's death had been to Blackler's he understood that ''at times it would be very good to be a hermit''.

He believed the Kurow Rugby Club would work through the tragedy together and eventually recover from the losses.

Glenavy cricket captain Ross McCulloch had known Smith since he was a child. He described him as great team-mate.

He said Smith was someone the team could rely on. He worked tirelessly to make sure a team was fielded each weekend.

A personal highlight for both was the senior reserve title win.

''Last year was the first time in 15 years that Glenavy played the whole season [and we] came away with the trophy. He was 112 not out and he got five wickets. It was a good night, that night.''

Smith also played cricket for Albion.

Police said inquiries into Mr Smith's death were ongoing.

- Otago Daily Times

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