'Special young man' dies at Te Mata Peak

Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Tom Hay was about to embark on a university degree. Instead his family are preparing a service to mark a life cut short.

Mr Hay, 19, was killed when the Mercedes he was driving fell 200 metres off a cliff on Te Mata Peak, near Havelock North.

Police are still trying to determine whether the accident happened on Monday night or Tuesday morning. Mr Hay was driving down the peak when his car came off the edge of a bend, Senior Constable Chris Pye said.

Mr Hay had been working at the Hastings Heinz Wattie's plant during the summer. The company flew the flag at half-mast yesterday.

A spokeswoman said that, although Mr Hay had not been at the plant long, he was well liked.

Havelock North High School principal Greg Fenton said staff were extremely upset to learn of their former pupil's death. Staff described him as a "lovely young man" who excelled at drama, and was well liked by staff and students.

A friend of Mr Hay's, Michelle Walmsley, who is in a wheelchair, described him as a "very special young man", saying he went out of his way to help her when he worked at Hastings New World.

"He'd always get the dog food for me and we'd have a chat.

"We both loved comedy. We were always having a laugh."

She said Mr Hay was excited about starting university this year and studying towards a commerce degree.

Police want to hear from anyone who saw a silver Mercedes at Te Mata Peak on Monday or Tuesday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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