Hunter 'will forever be missed'
Jennifer Beck gave her husband two kisses as he left for a hunting trip last Friday, because she had a ''horrible gut feeling'' something would go wrong.
Yesterday, her worst fears were confirmed when two police officers arrived at her door to tell her he had died in a tragic accident.
Michael Beck, 49, was killed after falling from a cable while trying to cross the Acheron River near Hanmer Springs.
Beck had known what they were going to tell her when she saw the ''outline of the police'' through the door.
''I was reading The Press' story online about a hunter missing in Hanmer Springs and I somehow knew it was Mike.''
She was glad she had given her husband a ''proper goodbye''.
''I gave him two kisses instead of one when he left at 5am to go hunting. I just had this horrible gut feeling he shouldn't go, but he didn't listen to me,'' she said.
''We were just talking last week about how we didn't want the other one to die first. We said we couldn't leave each other. It didn't even last six days.''
The Becks, originally from Portland in Oregon, were high school sweethearts and married 28 years ago. They have six children - Jeremy, Stephanie, Michelle, Jeffrey, Jessica and Sarah.
''He has been the most attentive and loving husband and dad ever since.''
In 2006 the family moved from the United States to Christchurch, where Beck worked in construction. Recently, he had been helping to fix earthquake-damaged homes.
''We loved the scenery and the people here and made a lot of friends. We just became New Zealand citizens last June. It's so sad, Mike didn't quite make a year," his wife said.
''He used to say he would live a very long life because of the slower lifestyle here. I guess that's ironic now.''
Beck had been on a geese hunting trip over the long weekend when the accident happened. He had been trying to cross the Acheron River when he fell 10 to 18 metres onto rocks below.
Police were alerted to the incident about 1pm yesterday and were now doing an autopsy to see if there had been any medical reasons behind the fall.
"He said he might be home on Sunday because of the rain but if we didn't hear from him not to worry because he was just catching more geese for the dog. When he died he'd already got 12 for us.''
Beck had been an "avid outdoorsman", especially fond of fishing and hunting.
His daughter Stephanie Cerpa, 23, said her dad died ''doing what he loved".
''It's just like him to make a grand exit. To all of us six kids he was the coolest guy we ever knew. He was always so adventurous, he would do anything that was fast or crazy.''
Cerpa married four months ago and her grandparents flew in from the US for the occasion.
''It's so nice to have those memories of him and the whole family together. I will treasure that forever.''
The family were ''still in shock'' about the accident.
''To us, dad was invincible. It's sad that someone like him had to go so young, but only the good die young. He was the best dad we could have ever asked for,'' Cerpa said.
Beck was a "devout Christian" and his funeral will be next weekend at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Cashmere.
Cerpa said her Dad was the ''foundation that held the family together''.
''It will be hard without him for all of us.''
But Jennifer Beck said it was family that was getting her through.
''I am so glad to have my six treasures that Michael left me with. We will forever miss Mike.''
- The Press