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Coroner to investigate circumstances of Sean Wainui's death

·1 min read
FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2017, file photo, Maori All Blacks' Sean Wainui, left, is hit by Canada's Dan Moor during the first half of a rugby match in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sean Wainui, a rising star of Super Rugby with the Hamilton-based Chiefs, died Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 in an auto accident. He was 25. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The death of New Zealand Super Rugby player Sean Wainui in an auto accident is being treated as suspected suicide, a coroner said Tuesday.

Wainui died Oct. 18 in what police described as a single vehicle accident. Police said Wainui’s vehicle struck at tree at McLaren Falls Park near Tauranga on the North Island.

In a statement Tuesday Coroner Louella Parsons said Wainui’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

The New Zealand All Blacks performed a haka in tribute to Wainui before their test match against the United States at Washington’s FedEx Field on Saturday, pausing for 11 seconds in reference to Wainui’s No. 11 jersey.

The 25-year-old 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 fuel new concerns about the mental health support available to elite athletes after the suicide earlier this year of Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore.

The death of the 24-year-old Podmore in August sparked an independent inquiry into how Cycling New Zealand and High Performance New Zealand responded to a 2018 report which found a culture of bullying and other inappropriate behavior in the high-performance cycling program.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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