Family 'reeling' after young expat killed in crash

MYLES HUME
Last updated 12:14 30/07/2014
John-Paul Nelson
Supplied

CRASH VICTIM: The grieving family of John-Paul Nelson are said to be trying to get his body back to Glenavy, in Northern Ireland.

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A small Northern Irish community is in ''absolute shock'' after learning a young expatriate was killed in a crash just kilometres from his Mid-Canterbury home.

The grieving family of John-Paul Nelson, 30, are said to be trying to get his body back to Glenavy, in Northern Ireland, where he grew up.

Nelson was killed after his Toyota ute crossed the centreline, near Hinds, and collided with a truck and trailer unit about 8.30pm on Monday.

The agricultural worker was living in New Zealand on a working holiday visa.

Police spent Tuesday working with the British embassy to notify his family, but it seems his mother, Margaret Nelson, was not aware of the crash when she posted a Facebook message to him the day after he died.

''Well son how it going out there hope u are keeping well and not working 2 hard haha,'' she wrote.

A neighbour of Nelson's family in Glenavy, County Antrim, where ''everyone knows everyone'', said the town was reeling.

''Everybody is shocked, absolutely shocked,'' he said.

''They [the family] are doing it tough, I think the family are trying to get his body back home at the moment.''

Barry Whittaker, who owns an agricultural contracting business near Ashburton, employed Nelson six weeks ago when he headed south after spending time in the North Island. 

He had been in New Zealand since November 2013.

He had recently moved to a house in Winslow, south of Ashburton - only kilometres from the crash scene.

''It was close to home,'' Whittaker said.

He said Nelson was one of four agricultural contractors in the company, driving tractors and diggers.

''He was a good, young and quiet boy, he was a good worker,'' Whittaker said.

Many of Nelson's friends have taken to Facebook to pay tribute to the man they knew as ''Popey''.

''Can't believe I'm writing this. Was talking to you on the phone 3 hours later your took from us, I'm still waiting on you txting me back doesn't seem real. Had some amazing times with you in New Zealand will never forget them,'' one friend wrote.

Another person who worked with Nelson in Canada said he was ''a pure talent at his work''.

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