Sean Wainui died on October 18 after the former rugby star’s car crashed into a tree, but a coroner has now raised the possibility that his death could have been a suicide
The death of former New Zealand Maori All Black Sean Wainui is being investigated “as a suspected suicide,” a coroner has said.
Former Chiefs and Crusaders winger Wainui, 25, died on the morning of October 18 after police were notified of a single-car incident McLaren Falls Park near Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island.
A statement later confirmed he was declared dead at the scene as shockwaves were sent through the sport’s community, with New Zealand Rugby calling it “a dark day” for the game.
Tributes flooded in for Wainui, who is survived by his wife, Paige, son Kawariki Te Raiona and stepdaughter Arahia.
But coroner Louella confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that Wainui’s death “is being treated as a suspected suicide”.
Further details cannot be published at present due to ‘interim suppression orders’.
The All Blacks paid tribute to the former New Zealand under-20 just prior to Saturday’s 104-14 hammering of the United States, pausing for 11 seconds as a nod to Wainui’s old shirt number.
Players from Whakarewarewa Rugby Club also led a stirring haka tribute to Wainui when his funeral rites began in Rotorua last week, with wife Paige and his two children watching on.
Wainui’s final farewell took place at Te Wainui Marae in Gisborne on Sunday, after which his widow took to Instagram and posted: “I don’t have the words right now or could begin to describe the feeling of losing you baby all I know is I don’t wish this on anyone.
“I’m in absolute pieces and in so much pain knowing my whole other half to me has left this earth.
“But I will forever celebrate you my love for being the most amazing and incredible husband & father you were and the special years we got to spend together on this earth.”
These latest developments have sparked new concerns over athlete welfare and mental wellbeing following the suspected suicide of Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore earlier in 2021.
Podmore—who was 24 when she died in August—posted on Instagram shortly prior to her death, detailing the pressures of elite sport.
Wainui was capped 10 times by the Maori All Blacks and became the first player to score five tries in a Super Rugby fixture when he did so against Australian outfit the Waratahs earlier this year.