Wellington teenager Daniel Baldwin has died in a coma, after suffering a fatal brain injury during a club rugby game in Porirua over the weekend.

Baldwin displayed concussion symptoms and left the field near the end of a colts age-group game between his Wellington club and Paremata Plimmerton at Ngati Toa Domain on Saturday, and his condition deteriorated rapidly.

He was rushed to Wellington Hospital, where he underwent brain surgery on Saturday night and spent the days since in an induced coma. Baldwin, 19, died last night, with his family - parents Len and Eva, and brothers Stefan and Markus - girlfriend, and other family and friends in attendance.

They are now mourning the loss of a young man with an enormous zest for life, who had his future mapped out.


Len Baldwin said Daniel's family are remembering the larger-than-life young man, with a strong moral compass, who embraced life in everything he did.

"To all of us, he was always 'Dan the man with the plan'. He even called himself that."

Daniel loved dogs and had planned to become a New Zealand Police dog handler. He had done all the preparatory work and was at Victoria University in the second year of a degree tailor-made for his future career path; psychology, statistics and criminology.

An active sportsman, from rugby and skiing, and having attained a black belt in karate, Daniel was always challenging himself to be the best he could.

"He wasn't the star on the rugby field, but he was the good, hard-working, committed, loyal team player. He loved the game," said Len Baldwin.

With a chef for a father, Daniel also loved his food, and along with twin, Stefan, and younger brother Markus, had attained a great degree of skill in the kitchen. While at university, Daniel worked at Ortega Fish Shack and had upgraded his "kitchen assistant" job description to "Executive Kitchen Porter" or "EKP" on a label taped to his uniform.

"He took so much pride in doing a job well and his attention to detail was incredible, no matter how small the job. He would have been devastated to have let people down by not being able to do his shift Saturday night, he was so conscientious," Len says.

Daniel was a teenager, who loved having fun with girlfriend, Lucy, and his mates, but he also loved being at home with his parents and brothers. He was very proud of his mum Eva's Swedish heritage and learnt to speak the language, conversing with his mum and grandmother.

A family with a very tight bond, the Baldwins are now coming to terms with the tragic accident that has taken Daniel from them physically.

The family greatly appreciate all of the love, care and support they and Daniel have received in the past week. They understand there is media interest in the manner of Daniel's death, but they ask for privacy as they grieve for him.

They have no further comment to make at this time.

'Nineteen-year-old kids aren't supposed to die playing sport'

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Wellington Rugby have also expressed sadness at the news of Daniel's death.

"Our thoughts and hearts are with Daniel's family, friends, teammates and with the Wellington rugby community, who will all be shattered by this news," said Neil Sorensen, NZR general manager of rugby.

"Nineteen-year-old kids aren't supposed to die playing sport, it's distressing and so terribly sad.

"The immediate focus is ensuring Daniel's family and his mates are fully supported. The Rugby Foundation is in contact with his family and his club and will be assisting at this horrible time.

"We will spend the coming days doing all we can to support their needs, as they grieve their son, brother and mate."

A Wellington Rugby spokesman said support is being offered to other players, spectators and wider members of the club and community.

"We're certainly proud of the response from our rugby community," he said.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said he did not know Daniel but was a father himself.

"My heart would go out to family and friends of that young man, it's a tragedy," he said.

"I just feel incredibly sad for his family. Young man, far too early.

"He's in our extended family so we will look to support their close-knit family the best way that we can."

An inquiry into the events that led up to Daniel's death has already begun.