A small North Otago town is mourning the loss of a "great man" after he was fatally injured in a jet boating accident on the West Coast.
Roualeyn "Ronnie" Munro", died in Greymouth Hospital on Saturday after the incident on the Waiatoto River near Haast the night before.
The Otematata farmer and volunteer firefighter was travelling on a private jet boat with a group of friends when they hit a rock and flipped about 7pm on Friday.
The group were all wearing life jackets, but the impact threw everyone into the river, severely injuring Mr Munro. The 64-year-old was flown to Greymouth Hospital, where he died the next day.
"He fought pretty well," wife Vicky Munro said. "It's just something that went badly wrong."
Mrs Munro said her husband had been unwell for some time, but had rallied enough to go on the annual boating trip with friends.
"He was very much looking forward to going away on the jet boat."
Local search and rescue members did everything they could to help, she said.
Mr Munro had known most of them personally through his work as deputy chief of the Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade and his rescuers went "beyond the call of duty" for him.
A newly-wed Mr Munro had joined the volunteer fire brigade in 1976 after experiencing a small fire at his first home.
The couple had been due to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary this Saturday.
"He was a really kind and generous man. It's a huge loss to our family as well as the community," Mrs Munro said
Mr Munro had two adult children, David and Karen, and two grandchildren, Ella and Harry, who lived in Philadelphia.
"They were very much the light of his life. He spoke to the grandchildren in America on the iPad and just adored them," Mrs Munro said.
- The Timaru Herald