Photo tip-off to pig hunter's death

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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A photograph was the vital clue police needed to determine how a pig hunter came to be found dead on the bottom of Lake Waipapa, a coroner has found.

Ohaupo pig hunter Kevin Michael Hayward was found on the bottom of the lake on July 9 after he'd been missing for days.

Police believe a photo, downloaded from a camera found on the riverbank along with Mr Hayward's clothes and rifle, was taken just before he tried to swim across the lake to where his dogs had bailed up a boar.

Coroner Tim Scott released his findings yesterday and ruled Mr Hayward died as a result of drowning complicated by hypothermia, most likely on the afternoon of July 2, the day he walked into the bush with his five pig dogs for a lone one-day hunt.

The image, captured by Mr Hayward, was taken from the point where he had taken his clothes off and left his rifle on the shore. In the photo his dogs can be seen on the opposite side of the lake, bailing up a pig, the report said.

"Based on this information the police reconstruction is that Kevin decided to swim across the lake to the dogs and the pig when he saw and/or heard them on the other side of the lake," Mr Scott said.

"It is clear Kevin attempted to follow the dogs across the lake - by swimming - so he could assist them to manage to kill the pig. Sadly he was unsuccessful and he drowned while attempting to swim across the lake."

Mr Hayward was located wearing underwear, a singlet and a "bum" bag containing his wallet, cash, assorted cards and two hunting knives.

He was an experienced pig hunter and was known to hunt regularly around Lake Waipapa.

His disappearance sparked a large land and water search when his ute was found in the car park next to the dam with one of his pig dogs wandering around it.

In handing down his finding, the coroner thanked police for their assistance and offered his condolences to Mr Hayward's family, in particular his father, Douglas Hayward.

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- Waikato Times

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