Rings sound chief in raft tragedy
Oscar-winning sound editor Mike Hopkins, who worked on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and other blockbusters, has died in a rafting accident in New Zealand.
Police senior sergeant Carolyn Watson said Hopkins, 53, drowned on Sunday after his raft capsized in a river on the North Island.
A river contractor, Bruce Slater, and his son used a jet boat to rescue Hopkins' wife Nicci, who had been in the Waiohine River for two hours and was clinging to a ledge in a narrow part of the gorge too dangerous for bigger boats or a helicopter.
Mr Slater told Fairfax New Zealand the flash flood raised the river two to three meters (9.8ft) while the rafters were in the water. "If they'd been half an hour earlier, they would have been clear of the gorge," he said.
Half an hour later, the water levels would have been noticeably dangerous before the rafters launched, Mr Slater added.
The New Zealand Herald newspaper quoted Rings director Peter Jackson as saying many actors, directors and film crew members who were lucky enough to work with Hopkins would miss him deeply.
New Zealander Hopkins shared Oscars with Ethan Van der Ryn in 2003 and 2006 for King Kong and The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. The sound editing partners were also nominated for Transformers.
Hopkins was also sound editor on the second and third Rings films. Other recent films include the Johnny Depp Depression-era crime drama Public Enemies, the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie and the animated Kung Fu Panda.
His early work included Superman in 1978, the futuristic Blade Runner and two Jackson films, Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners.
The Herald said a family celebration of Hopkins' life was planned for Thursday.