Hunter victim of unforgiving terrain

Last updated 09:52 26/10/2012

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A coroner has found a passionate and experienced hunter from Alexandra paid the ultimate price after falling in unforgiving terrain in the Mt Aspiring National Park earlier this year.

The body of Matthew John Laing, 23, was found below a steep rock face on the western face of the Rob Roy Valley on January 9 after he failed to return from a solo hunting trip for chamois.

Yesterday an inquest into his death was held in Alexandra.

Senior Constable and Wanaka search and rescue incident controller Michael Johnston, of Wanaka, said a search and rescue began on the evening of January 8 after Mr Laing "uncharacteristically" failed to return from the trip at the scheduled time.

The area was popular with chamois hunters and often hunted.

The "passionate and experienced hunter and outdoors man" was found by searchers from a helicopter, about 6.45pm the next day. Mr Laing had fallen more than 100 metres down a steep valley face and it was believed at the time of his fall he had travelled high up the valley while stalking a chamois.

A pathologist report found Mr Laing died of "multiple traumatic injuries to the head due to fall".

"It would have been very difficult terrain to negotiate but not impossible," Mr Johnston said. The boots Mr Laing was wearing at the time were "perfect for the purpose".

Otago and Southland coroner David Crerar said Mr Laing "was well able to conduct himself in a steep environment. Unfortunately, the terrain he was traversing was unforgiving. He's taken one step too far and paid the ultimate price."

David Gibson, speaking on behalf of the family, said the family hoped the inquest would give them closure to be able to reflect on the treasured memories they had of Mr Laing, who they missed dearly. The coroner reserved his formal findings.

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- The Southland Times

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