A truck driver who died after the unit he was driving crashed on the Desert Road yesterday has been described as a committed lifelong truckie.
He was this afternoon named by his family as Dave Budge.
Budge was driving for Mainfreight when his southbound truck crashed down a riverbank about 4.30am on Thursday morning, 25 kilometres south of Turangi.
"All his friends knew him as Budgie. He was a through-and-through truckie," Budge's niece, Jacinda Kirtlan said.
Budge hailed originally from Titahi Bay and lived his life in the Wellington region with his partner.
Family members had gathered in Turangi to be as close as possible to Budge following the accident.
"'Keep on truckin' was a favourite saying of his," Kirtlan said.
She said the family was in a state of shock and plans had yet to be finalised for a funeral service in Wellington.
"As a family we want to thank Mainfreight, the police and his truck-driving mates. Everyone has been fantastic to us," Kirtlan said.
Police divers spent most of Thursday afternoon searching beneath and around the wreckage of the 20-tonne unit for Budge.
Swift swirling currents and narrow channels beneath the Waihohonu Stream bridge made earlier searches for Budge's body difficult.
- © Fairfax NZ News