Oscar-winning sound editor Hopkins dies in rafting accident

Mike Hopkins and sound editing partner Ethan Van der Ryn.(AFP)

Mike Hopkins and sound editing partner Ethan Van der Ryn.(AFP)

Hopkins (53) drowned on Sunday when his inflatable raft capsized during a flash flood in a river on New Zealand's North Island, police senior Sergeant Carolyn Watson said. His wife survived.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper quoted Lord of the 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.

"Mike was a very genuine, caring and warm-hearted guy with a great sense of humour," Jackson said.

A native New Zealander, Hopkins shared Oscars with sound editing partner Ethan Van der Ryn in 2006 for King Kong and in 2003 for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. They also were nominated for 2007's Transformers.

Hopkins was also sound editor on the two other Lord of the Rings films and had worked on earlier Jackson movies including Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners.

A celebration of life
The Herald reported a family celebration of Hopkins' life was planned on Thursday.

A river contractor, Bruce Slater, and his son used a jet boat to rescue Hopkins' wife Nicci Hopkins – 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.

Watson called the Slaters "heroic".
Slater told Fairfax Media New Zealand the flash flood raised the river two- to  three metres 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. And a half hour later, the water levels would have been noticeably dangerous before the rafters launched, Slater added. – Sapa-AP

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