Maori All Blacks star Sean Wainui’s death in a car accident is being treated as suspected suicide, a forensic pathologist has revealed.
The 25-year-old died Monday, Oct. 18, in what police described as a single-vehicle accident.
Police said the Super Rugby player’s vehicle hit a tree at McLaren Falls Park near Tauranga on the North Island.
In a statement Tuesday, forensic scientists told Louella Dunn NZ Herald that his death “is treated as a presumed suicide.”
No further details could be released about Wainui’s death after Dunn issued preliminary repression orders surrounding the incident.
The news comes shortly after the rugby star’s wife, Paige Wainui, paid tribute to her husband an intestinal-wearing tribute with a copy of his tattoo or ta moko on his left hand and ring finger.
“I do not have the words right now or could begin to describe the feeling of losing your baby, all I know is that I do not want this for anyone,” Paige wrote Monday.
“I am in absolute pieces and have so much pain in knowing that my entire other half to me has left this earth.
“But I will forever celebrate you my love for being the most amazing and incredible man and father you were, and the special years we had spent together on this earth.
“I will cherish these forever. We were soulmates. You were the most beautiful person on this earth with so much mana and character that treated me like an absolute queen.
“Our love was a love that few people are going to feel in this life, a love I never thought I would be able to find, but thanks to you, I did.”
The All Blacks performed a haka in homage to Wainui before their test match against the USA in Washington on Saturday, where they paused for 11 seconds with reference to Wainui’s jersey number.
Wainui played Super Rugby for the Hamilton-based Chiefs and Christchurch-based Crusaders and was a New Zealand Maori representative.
His death is likely to give rise to new concerns about the mental health support available to elite athletes following the suicide earlier this year of Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore.
The death of 24-year-old Podmore in August triggered an independent investigation into how Cycling New Zealand and High Performance New Zealand responded to a 2018 report that found a culture of bullying and other inappropriate behavior in the high-performance cycling program.
Wainui’s grieving wife Paige said putting Wainui to rest “was the hardest thing I have and will ever do in my entire life”.
The messages were shared with personal memories of the couple singing together and embracing at the hospital and on their wedding day.
“I do not know how to live without you, but I want to make you proud baby, and even though you are gone, I have a part of you with me everywhere I go, and that is your son Kawariki,” Paige wrote .
“I found my soulmate on this earth, and it was you, until we meet again my love.
“I love you with all my heart, see you in my dreams xx. Your wife / queen.”
Wainui was a well-liked figure in New Zealand who achieved a representative honor by playing for the Maori All Blacks.
He set a Super Rugby record in June when he became the first player to score five attempts in a single match.
Sonny Bill Williams said that “he could always feel his mana coming up against him as his opposition”.
Kiwi-born Wallabies veteran Quade Cooper was among many to share their grief and tribute.
“My heart goes out to Sean Wainui’s whanau (family),” he wrote on Twitter.
“I lost words when it was only a few months ago that I spoke to him at the gym in Tauranga. We have lost an incredible human being, ”he said, adding a broken heart emoji.
Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan said Wainui was popular with teammates and rivals.
“He embodied everything you could ask for in a player,” McMillan said.
“He will be remembered for being a passionate, hardworking, proud Maori who was an exceptional player, but more importantly father and husband.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on depression, contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local healthcare professional or someone you trust.