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Tragic end to search

Darren Myers’ brother-in-law Duncan Styles, left, chairman of Wairarapa Land Search and Rescue Murray Johnston, and Sergeant Tony Matheson address media after the recovery of the tramper’s body. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

Tramper’s body found below waterfall on Arete Stream
Family praises volunteers

ELI HILL
[email protected]

The body of missing tramper Darren Myers was found on Wednesday morning below a six-metre waterfall in the Tararua Range, not far from the hut where he last messaged his wife.

Search and Rescue incident controller, Sergeant Tony Matheson said it was believed that Myers died after falling from a height near Arete Stream on June 30, just two days after starting his tramp across the Northern Circuit.

“It is common for people who are trying to escape bad weather up high to go down and eventually they’ll end up at a creek. They’ll use the creek to get lower and perhaps that is what has happened.

“Being found at [the waterfall] suggests that it’s happened there, but potentially it might have happened up-stream.”

An Amalgamated Helicopter prepares to recover Darren Myers’ body. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Matheson said “everything suggests” that Myers’ death was sudden. The 49-year-old Wellington-based Briton wouldn’t have suffered.

Myers’ body was found by Amalgamated Helicopters at around 9.30am Wednesday morning in what Matheson described as a “nasty piece of the Arete Stream headwaters”.

“A search team had come within 50 metres of the location where he was found but had to turn around because it was too dangerous to continue.

“While the stream had been searched a number of times from the air, we believe he was covered by up to half a metre of snow.”

Matheson said the weather and difficult terrain had made searching the area difficult, with one volunteer breaking a leg while looking for Myers.

A search and rescue crew made up mostly of police officers was airlifted to the site Wednesday afternoon to recover Myers’ body, which was taken to Wairarapa Hospital.

Myers’ brother-in-law, Duncan Styles, said the family were grateful he hadn’t suffered.

“One of the hardest things that we’ve had to bear is the fact that he’s up there and alive and waving at a helicopter and not being seen, and potentially being in a lot of pain or distress.”

Styles said the family had taken a flight over the search area and could not believe how dedicated the teams had been.

“We’re grateful for search and rescue with how much effort these guys have put into the search, and how they’re all volunteers.

“They’ve all got jobs, they’ve all got lives that they need to get home to, and they without any hesitation have jumped in and gone looking for Darren.”

Styles said the family were taking things “one step at a time” and planned to have a ceremony for Myers in Wellington.

Volunteers gave up nearly 3000 hours of their time to search for Myers, with the air force, police, Amalgamated Helicopters, and search and rescue teams from around the North Island involved.

Chairman of Wairarapa Search and Rescue Murray Johnston said the Wairarapa team wouldn’t have been able to manage on its own.

“I’d just like to acknowledge everyone who helped out, the searchers, the volunteers.

“We had cafes, and private individuals bringing us food. It’s good to know there are people out there thinking of you.”

Johnston said it had been a frustrating search at times – teams tasked with searching the stream were “beaten back” by high water levels, caused by rain and melting snow.

“A lot of days we could only do two to three hours of work because of the weather. We knew the areas we wanted to look but we couldn’t get to them.

“We found the haystack, but it took us a long time to get the needle.”

 

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