Missing Canadian tourist Connor Hayes' thigh bone found on West Coast

LandSAR searching the Haast River for missing tourist Connor Hayes three years after his campervan was washed away by a slip.
Supplied

LandSAR searching the Haast River for missing tourist Connor Hayes three years after his campervan was washed away by a slip.

Michael Hayes waited three years for the phone call telling him his missing son's remains had been found.

Police revealed on Wednesday that a hunter had stumbled across one of Connor Hayes' thigh bones on the South Island's West Coast.

"It's as good an [outcome] as you can get from a tragic situation," Michael Hayes said from his home in Canada.

Canadian couple Joanna Lam, 24, and Connor Hayes, 25, died when their rental campervan crashed in the Haast River gorge ...
Supplied

Canadian couple Joanna Lam, 24, and Connor Hayes, 25, died when their rental campervan crashed in the Haast River gorge in 2013.

Connor Hayes, 25, and his girlfriend Joanna Lam, 24 – both from Ontario – died when a landslide swept their campervan off State Highway 6, near Diana Falls in Haast Pass, in wild weather in September 2013.

READ MORE: 
Father holds out hope to find son  
Lessons to be learned from campervan deaths 
Avalanche of trees swept couple away 

Lam's body was found several days later. A large scale search of the area, which lasted several weeks, found no trace of Connor Hayes. 

The wreckage of the campervan that Connor Hayes and Joanna Lam had rented.
TV3

The wreckage of the campervan that Connor Hayes and Joanna Lam had rented.

West Coast area commander Inspector Mel Aitken said a hunter found a thigh bone where the Haast and Burke rivers meet in August. 

A DNA analysis confirmed it belonged to Connor Hayes, which sparked another search on the Haast River on Sunday. 

"The search recovered a number of items of interest from the riverbed, but police are yet to confirm whether they belong to Mr Hayes," Aitken said. 

Michael Hayes travelled to New Zealand and unsuccessfully searched for his son's body. He said he was haunted by ...
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAXNZ

Michael Hayes travelled to New Zealand and unsuccessfully searched for his son's body. He said he was haunted by thoughts of the couple's final moments.

"Anything, including bones, which is believed to belong to [Connor], will be released to his family in Canada in due course."

Ad Feedback

Michael Hayes said the discovery was important for his family, particularly his son's five siblings, who were getting to the point where they could "regroup and carry on the best they can".

"It's something that we've waited for. It took maybe longer than we anticipated," he said.

Joanna Lam, right, had a job lined up at Nelson Hospital.
Police

Joanna Lam, right, had a job lined up at Nelson Hospital.

Hayes and his wife, Lorraine Tetreault, travelled to New Zealand to search for his son shortly after his disappearance.

They removed a large stone from the Haast River and placed it in Okuru Cemetery as a memorial. 

Hayes said his son's thigh bone was found near where they took the stone from the river, which was "somewhat ironic".

"When we left [New Zealand] people said we won't forget Connor. True to their word they were successful." 

Hayes paid tribute to those who helped search for his son.

"There's no possible way as a parent I could sit in Canada and say not enough had been done [to find Connor]. We're grateful."

Hayes said a large memorial service was held for Connor Hayes in Canada in November 2013. "Anything that will be done from here on in will be private," he said.

"I think about him [Connor] all the time. I miss him a lot."

FATAL TRIP

Hayes and Lam hired a campervan in Nelson about September 8, 2013. 

They travelled south to Haast on the main highway, stopping at Fox Glacier where they took a walk on the glacier with a guide. 

After discussing the possibility of accommodation at the Haast Motor Camp, the couple were seen travelling south in the campervan towards the Haast Pass on September 10. 

Weather in the area at the time was severe and some motorists turned back. 

Hayes and Lam continued along SH6 through the pass towards Wanaka. 

The road was closed a short time later.

The Canadian tourists were reported missing six days later, after Lam failed to turn up for her new job at Nelson Hospital. 

Search crews discovered the wreckage of their campervan in the Haast River on September 17.

Lam's body was found on the beach 6 kilometres north of the river mouth, 55km from the wreckage, on September 20.

At a coroner's inquest, concerns were raised about the length of time it took contractors to close the road. Radio communications in the area were affected by the remote location.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

'All four engines have failed'

The Boeing 747, called "The City of Edinburgh", the day after its terrifying flight.

A jumbo jet carrying Kiwis plunges from the sky in the pitch black near Indonesia.

A day in the life of Westside actor Shane Cortese

Shane Cortese, aged 17, second from left, in his room at the Majestic Hotel, with friends Shane Christensen, left, ...

Each week, we ask a famous Kiwi to share a photo memory.

Trapped and injured after crash

The fire service are working to extricate a person trapped in their car after a crash in west Auckland.

A person is trapped with serious injuries after an Auckland car crash.

Auckland's combustible buildings video

Auckland Council's general manager of building control, Ian McCormick, said staff have manually checked for buildings ...

Anger among residents of Auckland apartment high-rise identified as having Grenfell Tower combustible cladding.

Wellington

Bars to share info on patrons

0307 2005 NEWS.
Party goers queue to get into the nightspots in Courtenay Place after the All Blacks vs Irish and ...

Go Pro footage and bouncer intel will be used to get Wellington's bar-goers to behave.

Barred from rest home

A Hastings woman has been trespassed from her mother's rest home. (file photo)

Woman says she's been deprived of time with her mum, which she can never get back.

Garner: It was Winston's week

There's only winner this week – the smiling travelling salesman, Winston Peters, writes Duncan Garner.

OPINION: NZ First leader beaming as National and Labour have weeks they'd rather forget.

Hammer attack in Hawke's Bay

Despite taking hit after hit from a robber's hammer, a scrap metal yard employee prevented the offender from getting a cent.

Scrap yard employee left bloody and bruised but sent thief packing, empty-handed.

Canterbury

Movie creates Pecking Order video

Brian Glassey, Pecking Order star and national show competitor, with one of the roosters he's entering in the National ...

Visitors to premiere poultry show in Chch more interested in film stars than feathered entrants.

School shorts 'too cold'

School, generic, uniform, schoolbag, bag, books,

Mum pulls sons from school after it refused to provide warmer clothing options as part of its winter uniform.

Steve Gurney in cycle crash

Steve Gurney posted on social media from his hospital bed after the crash in Queenstown.

Kiwi multisport great Steve Gurney breaks five ribs crashing into a post on a cycle trail.

Accused of Ponzi fraud

Christchurch manager of WorldClaim NZ Guy Sayers has been ordered to surrender his passport.

Quake advocate Guy Sayers allegedly pushed WorldClaim clients to invest in a Ponzi scheme.

Waikato

Razor-laced balls at dog park

Heather Gowans often throws a tennis ball for her dog at Day's Park and is horrified Peppa could have bitten into one of ...

Tennis balls containing razor blades have been found in popular Hamilton dog park.

Fraudster stole $1.9m

Tessa Grant at a court appearance in 2016.

Tessa Grant lived it up on stolen funds, but that luxury lifestyle has come to a crashing halt.

What a winning streak

The $27.3 million winning Lotto and Powerball ticket was bought at the Four Square in Thames owned by Sukhpal Singh.

Six $1m-winning Lotto tickets have been sold in the Waikato in as many weeks.

Teen dies at work

A man who died after a work place accident at Torpedo7 on Wednesday has been named (file).

Teenager Jacob Woods was killed while working at a Hamilton distribution centre.

Taranaki

Word to your mother

21062017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.   Brittany Bourgoise runs her own nail technician business from home.  Kids ...

Brittany Bourgoise is a mumpreneur and reckons other mothers can become one too.

Activist joins council

Environmental activist Emily Bailey has been appointed as an iwi representative to the regional council policy and ...

Former Urewera raids activist looking forward to being part of making decisions on regional council

Marae dream over

The initial design of the Ngamotu Marae, which was to be located on Ocean View Pde site, was to cost $4.5 million and ...

Theft linked to scrapping of $4.5 million New Plymouth marae proposal.

A man and his kereru

Kereru like to flock but are usually only seen in ones and twos.

OPINION: Sometimes you get what you want and it just isn't enough.

Manawatu

No more limits

Cameron Holland, 20, had a brain injury after a car crash when he was 11.

A double blow robbed him of his father and gave him a serious brain injury.

Twisted web of lies

Nakita Sue will serve six months' home detention.

Woman stole man's life savings with sob stories and threats to post nude pics.

House fire shocks resident

Fire risk management officer Andrew Cotter examines a kitchen after a house fire.

Seeing flames tear through his home was the last thing a man from Bulls expected.

Kiwi seriously injured in London

Manawatu man Joel Perry is recovering in hospital after an assault and mugging while on his way home in London.

A vicious attack on a New Zealand tourist has left him in hospital and struggling to get home.

Nelson

Doughnuts selling like hot cakes

Josiah Smits of the Smoking Barrel Cafe and Restaurant with some of his famous donuts at his High St, Motueka business.

A Motueka cafe is struggling to meet demand for its syringe-injected gourmet doughnuts.

Greens target Nelson

Nick Smith has held the Nelson seat for 21 years.

The Green Party is campaigning to break Nick Smith's 21-year grip on Nelson.

Meet the Kiwi helping Oracle

Boat Build Manager Tim Smyth with the saw blade used by the giant CNC Milling machine  used on America's Cup yacht Oracle.

If Oracle turn it round to beat Team NZ, it will be thanks in part to a boat builder from Nelson.

Acting chief's pay confirmed

David Hammond has been appointed acting chief executive for the Nelson City Council.

Interim NCC chief executive David Hammond will take on the role from June 26.

Marlborough

Diarrhoea outbreak closes pool

Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 will be closed for several days while it is tested for the parasite.

Seven swimmers have fallen ill after using a public pool in Blenheim.

Beached on an atoll

Havana Coffee's Geoff Marsland, right, was on the yacht.

The crew aboard a badly damaged yacht in the Pacific Ocean have been found alive and well.

Hunting the 'Kiwi way'

The Gunshack Blenheim owner Peter Watson says hunters are being left with fewer places to shoot because of poachers.

Poachers, and even some young hunters, have "no respect for anyone or anything, not even the animals they're hunting".

Once bitten, not shy

The Employment Relations Authority has penalised KRSVP Limited $25,000 for failing to keep proper employment records.

Marlborough vineyard contractor stung for the same employment breach twice in two years.

South Canterbury

Marking Matariki in Waimate video

Waimate Main School kapa haka group members are, from left, Summer Pay, 8, Maddison Longman, 8, and Ashley Guy, 7.

Attendee numbers have grown, and performances have improved, since Matariki celebrations began in Waimate six years ago.

RSA restructure looms

South Canterbury Returned and Services' Association president Greg O'Brien.

Restructure looms as South Canterbury RSA tries to improve its financial situation.

Clone sought for vet practice video

Stepping back after 40 years at the Veterinary Centre Waimate is vet Dougall McLachlan.

Dougall McLachlan's colleagues want his last pair of work gumboots to last a very long time.

$1.1m for new lights

Netcon chief executive Steve McCoy with an LED light of the type his company has already installed in Temuka. The Timaru ...

Work to replace Timaru's street lights can start next month thanks to boost.

Southland

Young performers face the music

Monique Clementson (Deloris), Annie Sherborne, and Rachael Scott (Sister Mary Patrick) at rehearsals for the ...

Young performers are gaining exposure and touring the country for Sister Act the musical.

Arrested after threats

08072016 Newsphoto. SIMON MAUDE / FAIRFAX NZ. Generic, stock, NZ Police, police car, The po po, police. 08-N-policeC

A 54-year-old man was arrested after threatening Work and Income staff.

Father 'evil', grief-stricken mum says

Police staff at the Riverton home where three-month-old Honour Ashworth was injured.

Grieving Southland mother says her soul was "ripped to pieces" when she found out her partner caused her infant son's death.

Green Party takes off

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand Invercargill candidate Rochelle Surendran speaks at a Green Party Launch in Invercargill.

Green Party co-leader comments on Clutha-Southland MP resignation during Invercargill visit.

Ad Feedback