Crash claims 'precious' brothers

By elliot.parker@age.co.nz

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Tauherenikau brothers, from left, Angus (Gus) Donald, 15, and Sam Donald, 19, who died after a road crash on Western Lake Road on Thursday. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Tauherenikau brothers, from left, Angus (Gus) Donald, 15, and Sam Donald, 19, who died after a road crash on Western Lake Road on Thursday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The small community of Tauherenikau is in shock and mourning the loss of two of its favourite sons, killed in a car crash on Thursday.

Brothers Sam and Angus [Gus] Donald were on their way to the coast in the early afternoon to go fishing when their 4WD utility left the road. It went into a ditch, then weaved across the road and smashed into a tree on Western Lake Rd.

Skid marks, road damage and police spray markings show the passenger's side wheels on the ute travelled along the edge of the roadside ditch for 30m, before the ute weaved across the centreline and back again, sliding sideways into a tree.

Sam, 19, and Gus, 15, were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The extended Donald Family is well known in Wairarapa, especially in the farming fraternity, and the two brothers were the sons of Tracie and Dave Donald of Alloa, Tauherenikau.

Gus Donald was in Year 11 at Rathkeale College and was a star sportsman.

His older brother had left school and was working at a hunting and fishing business in Otaki.

Gus Donald had only just returned home after winning the "down the line" clay-shooting North Island Secondary Schools Championship in Hamilton last weekend, which a third brother, Bayley Donald (year 10), also attended.

The family are renowned as top shooters. The boys' father David and grandfather John take part in shooting competitions.

The family is so into clay-bird shooting that they were part of a project to establish a new clay-target club on their farm.

Sam Donald left Rathkeale in 2012; he was also a keen shooter, captaining the Rathkeale shooting side in his last year at school.

Rathkeale principal Willie Kersten said the two brothers, who had been boarders at Repton House, were remembered as being the "salt of the earth".

"They were fully engaged in everything, including house activities," Mr Kersten said.

"They just contributed everywhere. Just the most friendly, outgoing, family orientated boys. Really, really genuine and down to earth."

He said the Donald family was well known in Wairarapa, "stretching back generations", and the parents of the boys, Tracie and David, were "full of support" for the boys and the school.

"Tracie is part of the Rathkeale Friends Association and contributes a lot.

"David is coach of the shooting team and helped with the agricultural programme at Rathkeale, which the boys were involved in.

"They are just very, very generous people."

Mother Tracie Donald called the Times-Age to talk about her boys, breaking down in tears as she described the family's loss.

"They were just brothers being brothers - doing what boys do," she said. "All I can say is that they were precious, precious boys and we are just so proud of them.

"It's a tragic accident and we are devastated we didn't get a chance to say goodbye."

A farm worker, on a farm adjacent to the crash, told the Times-Age yesterday he heard a bang but did not know what it was.

"Then things [emergency crews] started arriving," he said.

The worker, who asked not to be named, said he was surprised the crash had happened on a wider part of Western Lake Rd, rather than the narrower sections north.

"Further up [towards Featherston] the road is quite bad, gets quite slimy under those trees. But not here," he said.

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples spoke of the boys' good nature and family values.

"Angus and Sam Donald came from a family that loved and supported them. They were really nice young men," she said.

"Sam had a job where he was very well-liked and appreciated. He was the type of young man that you would be happy to let take your daughter to the movies.

"Angus had all the makings of becoming a top clay-target shooter after giving both his dad and grandfather a run for their money in recent competitions. It was a proud moment for the family when three generations all lined up in the same contest.

"I was impressed by their good manners, by the way they did what their parents asked and especially by the way they looked after their mother. There was good-natured ribbing of their father and banter about who was the best shot. It was easy to be envious of this genuinely happy family."

Willie Kersten said at school both boys had been into everything outdoors. The two played hockey for the school while the youngest, Bayley, played rugby.

South Wairarapa District councillor Colin Olds said the family was an "integral part of the community".

"The whole community is just reeling. Our hearts really do go out to David and Tracie," he said. "I didn't see the boys much, but they were good-spirited boys. It's just very, very sad."

The boys were adventurous types - Sam Donald went off on a successful year-long exchange at Wynberg High School in South Africa.

Gus Donald won Junior Sportsman of the Year at the Wairarapa secondary school sports awards last year for a "series of outstanding performances at major clay-target shooting events throughout New Zealand".

The Times-Age reported last year that the "North Island open championships provided a classic illustration of Donald's promise in a sport where the ability to maintain consistent form is of huge importance".

At the championships he was first in the C grade single rise, first in the C grade single barrel, first in the junior (under-18) single barrel and first in the C grade point score trophy match.

As well, he won the HOA (High Over All) Caesar Guerini 300 in which he beat off challenges from some of the country's best-performed senior shooters.

The two teenagers came fromone of Wairarapa's pioneering farming families, whose history of land-owning inthe Tauherenikau district reaches back many generations.

Quentin Donald snr bought the Alloa block and set up a romney stud there in 1906.

He gave the Defence Department permission to establish a camp by the Tauherenikau River in 1911 to train instructors for the newly formed Territorial Army, and was chairman of the Featherston County Council.

His son, Jim, carried on with the stud. Jim and his brother, Quentin Donald jnr, were outstanding rugby players.

Both brothers were selected for the All Blacks in the 1920s.

Messages to the Donald family can be sent c/o PO Box 185, Carterton 5743, or can be left on Sam and Gus' tribute pages at www.tributes.co.nz

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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