Crash robs unborn daughter of father

MYLES HUME
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014
Stefan Zeestraten
EVERYTHING AHEAD OF HIM: Stefan Zeestraten and his partner of four years, Gemma Nicholson, were expecting the birth of their first child – a girl – in three weeks when Zeestraten crashed his ute and died.

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Dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten was only three weeks away from becoming a dad when he died in a ute crash.

The 24-year-old former Christ's College pupil, from Southland, spent the day before his death making furniture in preparation for his daughter's arrival - a first child for him and his partner, Gemma Nicholson.

She is now facing parenthood alone, after he crashed his ute while driving home from a family gathering on Monday.

His four-wheel-drive Toyota Land Cruiser left Limehills-Browns Rd, north of Winton, and hit a power pole about midnight.

The successful farm manager, who studied at Lincoln University, was driving the 2km home from a barbecue at his cousin's house.

He left early because he felt unwell.

It was not until three hours later when friends left the barbecue and found the crash scene.

Zeestraten family spokesman Grant Jackson said the Winton community was shocked at the loss of a man who had everything ahead of him.

He and Nicholson had been together for four years.

"He was at a turning point in his life, he was three weeks away from becoming a dad and he was really looking forward to that. In fact the day before we lost him he spent the day putting together children's furniture for the upcoming arrival," Jackson said.

Zeestraten had sold his beloved V8 Holden Commodore for "a more practical double cab ute" and had bought his first house.

Zeestraten was the general farm manager of dairy farming company Southern Centre Dairies, which his parents, Alfons and Gea, owned at Limehills, north of Winton.

The family emigrated to New Zealand almost 17 years ago from Holland.

He oversaw three operations involving 2700 cattle on the farm, which he showed to university students or other visitors "at a drop of a hat", Jackson said.

The family could only speculate as to why he lost control of his ute and crashed on Monday night.

"One thing you can speculate is that it was because of black ice, it was one of the best frosts in Southland this winter that night, but there was no way alcohol was involved because Stefan wasn't drinking because he felt that crook," Jackson said.

"He was a man who was mature beyond his years, and he never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Even if we tried to think of anything negative about Stefan, we can't, he's just one of those guys who is that perfect."

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