Hawke's Bay man killed in train collision

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 13:18 09/07/2014
George Ellis
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DRIVER: George Ellis died after his truck collided with a train.

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Two young men who died in tragic circumstances will be remembered during a minute's silence before tonight's Ranfurly Shield clash between Mid-Canterbury and Counties Manukau.

George Robert Ellis, 22, of Hawke's Bay, suffered critical injuries when the truck he was driving collided with a train in Ashburton on Monday. He died yesterday.

Ellis had recently graduated from Lincoln University near Christchurch and moved south to take up a job for WaterForce Asburton.

He played division 1 rugby for the Southern Rugby Club, which is part of the Mid-Canterbury Rugby Union. Four of Ellis' team-mates will play for Mid-Canterbury in tonight's Ranfurly Shield clash in Pukekohe. They visited him in Christchurch Hospital yesterday shortly before he died.

A Southern Rugby Club spokesman said: "The team are devastated by all this."

Ellis was a talented wing, who was nicknamed "Badger" by his team-mates since he joined the club this season.

"He certainly became a very popular member of the team," the spokesman said.

"He scored some pretty good tries in the club comp."

Ellis and Jordan Kemp, 17, would be remembered during a minute's silence at this evening's Ranfurly Shield clash, the spokesman said.

Kemp died after he collapsed during a game in Whangarei on Saturday.

It was believed he suffered a brain bleed after a clash of heads.

Ellis' friends have posted messages on Facebook describing him as a "champion bloke" who always had a smile on his face and who was "tragically taken far too soon".

"Rest in peace George. A top man and you will be very sorely missed," Monty White said.

"Rest easy mate, a good bloke taken far too soon, thoughts are with you and your family," Sam Houston said.

"Rest easy mate, champion bloke and your going to be missed so much," Tom Carter said.

Ellis' parents live in Ongaonga in Hawke's Bay. A woman at the couple's home said they were still in Christchurch and not available to comment.

Ellis was driving a truck owned by WaterForce Ashburton and was attempting to negotiate a give-way controlled railway crossing when the crash happened.

Witnesses told police that the truck was crossing the line and the train sounded its warning device on more than once immediately before the collision.

The truck was extensively damaged. The impact pushed the truck off the railway line into a nearby paddock and the train stopped some 500 metres further south along the line.

Anyone with information about the crash should contact Constable Fran Clark, at the Ashburton police station.

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