Ohau crash vic­tim re­mem­bered as tal­ented builder and spe­cial guy

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM CA­VANAGH

Rowan Yea­ger spent two years build­ing a home for him­self. But a tragic ac­ci­dent cut his life short, a week from move-in day.

Yea­ger, 34, died af­ter he crashed his ve­hi­cle in the early hours of An­zac Day, near Lake Ohau.

Yea­ger’s death has shocked his fam­ily and close friends who re­mem­ber him as an avid out­door lover, and a ‘‘tal­ented’’ builder.

The death of their son had not yet sunk in for par­ents Brenda and Ross Yea­ger, who said ‘‘to­tally un­be­liev­able’’.

They re­mem­bered Rowan as a man who loved sports, in­clud­ing snowboarding and surf­ing, and said he was a good ten­nis and soc­cer player.

Rowan and his younger brother Nick grew up on the Hi­bis­cus Coast, north of Auck­land.

Rowan moved to Queen­stown more than 15 years ago, even­tu­ally sell­ing up to go live at Lake Ohau, Brenda Yea­ger said.

Rowan was about to move into the home he had spent the past two it was years build­ing, she said. ‘‘He never got to live in his home that he spent so many hours [build­ing] ... by hand, all by him­self.’’

The fam­ily had been sup­ported by Rowan’s high school friends, who had vis­ited the fam­ily to ‘‘have a good rem­i­nisce’’ upon hear­ing of his death.

The fam­ily planned to travel to Lake Ohau to meet and thank every­one for their kind words and sup­port.

Child­hood friend An­drew Weather­all re­mem­bered Yea­ger as a ‘‘fun guy’’ and the ‘‘life of the party’’. The news of his best friend’s death had been ‘‘pretty hard to hear’’, Weather­all said.

Both men shared a love for ‘‘pow­der days’’ up the moun­tain, he said.

Yea­ger was an ‘‘amaz­ing builder’’ who would take the op­por­tu­nity to get up the Ohau ski fields when there was snow, he said.

Weather­all and Yea­ger, along with an­other friend, had bought the land where Yea­ger had been build­ing the house, so they could build a ski bach.

Neigh­bour Snow Davies watched Yea­ger sto­ried house.

‘‘All that work done and he never got to live in it. In that as­pect, it’s quite sad.’’

Yea­ger was good with his hands and was a ‘‘tal­ented’’ builder, Davies said.

‘‘It’s not a nice feel­ing know­ing he’s not com­ing back.’’

Lake Ohau Lodge owner Mike Neil­son­met Yea­ger more than two years ago and em­ployed him in ‘‘odd con­struc­tion jobs’’.

He was a ‘‘very spe­cial guy’’, Neil­son said. build the two-

‘‘He cer­tainly be­came known and liked by the mu­nity.’’

Sergeant Blair Cor­lett, of Oa­maru, said a passerby came across Yea­ger, who had been ejected from his car and was found a cou­ple of me­tres from where it landed, at Free­hold Creek Bridge and con­tacted emer­gency ser­vices at 5.30am.

The po­lice se­ri­ous crash unit was con­tin­u­ing in­quiries.

A fu­neral for Yea­ger will be held in Whanga­paraoa on Tues­day. well­com-

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Rowan Yea­ger play­ing with Lin­coln and Hugo Weather­all.

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