Tensions high over rail death

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2013

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Tensions are high in Te Awamutu following the sudden death of a man on train tracks south of the town on Saturday morning.

Michael Ohutu, 19, described by his father as a "hardworking chap that gets along with everybody", was killed by a northbound train about 4am.

Police have reported the death of the farmhand and former Te Awamutu College student to the coroner, but it is understood the investigation into Michael's death is ongoing.

Yesterday evening police could not be reached for further comment, but a policewoman was seen leaving the property that afternoon and his family said the incident was still being investigated.

About 30 members of his family and friends had gathered in the backyard of the suburban home.

Michael's father, George, said he, his wife and three kids were doing well, and the extended family had stepped in to help.

"This is very hard and sensitive," he said.

Although Ohutu could confirm few details surrounding his son's death, he said he had been at a party earlier in the night where there had been a "fracas".

"For him to be the one to be taken out - it's beyond repair," Ohutu said.

It is not known if Michael left with friends, but his death had left his brothers "ready to blow", Ohutu said.

He described his son, who lived at the family home, as a "good young fulla" who loved music and his nieces and nephews.

"He happily lived at home with his parents. He was a hardworking chap that gets along with anybody."

A KiwiRail spokeswoman confirmed the driver of a northbound train had reported the incident to police on Saturday.

She said the company had an automatic three-day standdown period for drivers involved in incidents like this and counselling would be offered.

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- Waikato Times

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