A man whose husband was killed during a police pursuit on his way to work has died suddenly.
Owen Fraser was found dead at home in Kaiapoi, North Canterbury, on Wednesday – the day after what would have been Kenneth McCaul’s birthday and their wedding anniversary.
McCaul, 64, Fraser’s partner of 40 years, was killed in the early hours of October 22 last year when his car was hit by another car driven by 17-year-old Jayden Richard Breakwell at an intersection in Fendalton, Christchurch.
Breakwell’s car had been pursued by police at high speed and repeatedly ran through red lights before the crash.
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McCaul was on his way to work at the city’s hospital, leaving early each day to secure a parking space where he would sleep for two hours before his shift started.
Police were at Fraser’s home on Wednesday but have not confirmed the identity of the person who died.
Inquiries into the circumstances of the death were ongoing, Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said.
“My thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the deceased.”
McCaul’s nephew Jeremy Colgan, who lives in Australia, was shocked to learn of Fraser’s death.
“Owen was an amazing and loving man. He and my uncle Ken had a relationship that was the envy of all.
“They lived a beautiful existence because they were together. It has been so difficult to imagine one without the other.
“Now, together again, I hope the moment they’ve been apart is quickly forgotten and they can again enjoy each other’s company again.”
A neighbour of Fraser’s said she had last seen him about a week ago mowing the lawns across the road.
“It’s so sad,” she said after learning Fraser had died. “I knew he was really struggling with everything.”
Fraser and McCaul met at a club in Perth, Australia, on a Sunday night in May 1979.
“It was love at first sight – Kenneth fell in love with Owen’s beautiful, long locks,” celebrant Hilary Muir said at McCaul’s funeral last year.
“Their life together was blissfully happy right up until the 22nd of October.”
Muir told Stuff she was “devastated” to hear of Fraser’s death.
“Owen found true love with Kenneth, he found a home with Kenneth. Finally they had so many plans together, everybody I know loved them. They were just two real gentlemen who adored each other.
“The only solace that I’ve got is that they’re together.”
She said Fraser was “in shock” after McCaul’s death.
“They were a complete team, learning to live without each other was impossible. Their whole lives were intertwined.”
The couple spent 30 years in Australia, where McCaul was born, and married on McCaul’s 60th birthday in 2014.
An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) investigation into the events that led up to McCaul’s death was released in October, on Fraser’s 72nd birthday.
It found officers should not have started the pursuit and that there were “multiple occasions” when it should have been abandoned.
After reading the report, Judge Colin Doherty asked Fraser directly what he thought of the findings, which were critical of the police’s approach to the pursuit.
“I said, ‘well I don’t agree with it because it was all critical of the police’,” Fraser said at the time.
“The person who we have to blame is the driver of the car.”
Fraser later told Stuff that he had done his best to keep himself busy over the past year, gardening, getting the outside of the house painted and making photo albums.
“Otherwise I’d be sitting thinking all the time.”
Breakwell was jailed last December for two years and eight months for manslaughter and reckless driving causing injury.
Fraser, who was not at court for the sentencing, wrote in his victim impact about how financial difficulties after his husband’s death meant he might be forced to sell their home, which was their “pride and joy”.
“It would be like leaving my heart and soul behind when I have to walk out the door for the last time. Why is the world so cruel at times?
“After doing everything together for 40 years, it is just no fun doing anything by yourself.
“I feel numb a lot of the time and still can’t believe what has happened. Every day I wish that Kenneth could just appear.
“At times I feel like my life has come to an end. I sometimes wish I was dead so I could be with him.”
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