Hardworking, loyal and respectable were three words that described the man who died in a head-on collision on York Rd last Saturday.

Ross Leslie Hallgarth, 54, from Hastings had been working for Phoenix Contracting Ltd in the morning before the car he was driving and a ute collided.

A Phoenix Contracting Ltd spokesman offered his condolences to the family and was saddened by the loss.

"I was involved with him for a long time as he worked here for a number of years before he left and came back to us recently. Everybody here is sad and disappointed as it is such a tragic way to lose a life."


The spokesman said Mr Hallgarth was a hugely valued and appreciated employee.

Prior to working at Phoenix Ltd, Mr Hallgarth worked for Hawke's Bay Machinery Moving for four years from 2009-2013.

Mr Hallgarth operated hired truck and trailer units, which was something transport manager Mark Naylor said the 54-year-old was passionate about.

"He loved everything to do with driving trucks and he was very good at it. In my eight to nine years of business I can say he has been the best operator we have had, he was exceptional."

Mr Naylor often caught up with Mr Hallgarth for beers since leaving the company in 2013.

"He always talked about his children and how proud he was of them. They were a huge part of his life."

On Sunday Mr Naylor spoke to one of the sons who was understandably very upset.

"He was such a character man and although he looked rough he was really genuine and a respectable guy. I expect the funeral to be huge as he was such a likeable person."


Hawke's Bay Towing owner Rod Naylor said he was equally saddened by the news.

He said the company often dealt with fatals for police and when it was someone they knew it made it that much worse.

Yesterday Hawke's Bay Road Policing group sergeant Paul Ormerod said police's sympathies were with Mr Hallgarth's family and friends.

Mr Ormerod said the ute travelling east had been overtaken by a small green vehicle.

The car Mr Hallgarth was driving west had then taken evasive action and lost control, crashing head-on into the ute.

The second vehicle in the crash did not stop after the incident. The vehicle was described as being a colour like dark green, from the 1990's, in rough condition and possibly a Honda Accord.

"Hawke's Bay Police are grateful to the people who have come forward and provided information which may help in the investigation into a fatal car [crash]," he said.

"However, we are still yet to locate the second driver involved in the crash," Mr Ormerod said.

"Police are very keen to speak to this person and we encourage them, and anyone else with information which may be of interest, to contact us immediately."

- Anyone with information is asked to call Hastings Police on 06 831 0700.
Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.