A fit and healthy razor died of tree nettle poisoning after it went missing in wild and rugged areas nearly 20 years ago, according to a forensic pathologist.
Jason Chase, 25, was found dead after an intensive search and rescue on the Ruahine Ranges, in New Zealand, on January 3, 2003.
His death baffled authorities for nearly two decades because there was no evidence of foul play, serious injury or malnutrition, and the cause was eventually identified as “obscure natural causes.”
Pathologist Cynric Temple-Camp revealed in his new book ‘The Quick and the Dead’ that it would take another 15 years before he was finally able to put the mystery to bed.
Jason Chase, 25, was found dead after an intensive search and rescue on the Ruahine Ranges in New Zealand on January 3, 2003.
Pathologist Cynric Temple-Camp revealed in his new book ‘The Quick and the Dead’ that it would be another 15 years before he could finally put the nagging mystery to bed
“I had never been at peace with Jason for years. His death never made sense to me. Now I could put it away, my work was done. ‘
Mr. Temple-Camp visited retired surgical colleague John Coutts, who recalled a similar 1961 case.
“It was about Dannevirke road in the Ruahines, pretty much where your dude [Jason] has been found, “he told Mr. Temple-Camp.
‘Two young men aged 18 and 21 went there to shoot. It was also the same time of the year – Boxing Day actually, and quite warm, so they were dressed lightly. They came down until quite late and it was early evening when they did.
“They couldn’t quite see where they were going when it got dark and they pushed through a fairly dense bush. They came across a bank with nettles. Do you know what they are? ‘
Mr. Coutts noted that the nettles were known as Urtica ferox and were native to the area.
“They grow to six feet and their leaves are covered with stiff hairs about six millimeters long.”
Mr. Coutts explained that the nettles are extremely poisonous and have the potential to cause blindness, breathing difficulties, paralysis, abdominal pain and ultimately death.
In the case of the two young men, one died after severe abdominal pain and blindness, while the other managed to recover.
Mr. Temple-Camp recalled that Mr. Chase had two shallow sores in his stomach, which he had stressed.
The pathologist contacted a local farmer, who explained that it was good practice for hunters to wear leggings in the Ruahine Ranges area in case they encountered the poisonous plant.
Mr. Chase’s death confused authorities for nearly two decades because there was no evidence of cheating, serious injury or malnutrition, and the cause was eventually identified as “obscure natural causes” (shown, Ruahine Ranges)
Mr. Temple-Camp believes Mr. Chase has been in the bush for a while even though he took a wrong turn
“That was a surprise,” said Mr. Temple-Camp in his book.
“The stinging nettle hazard was therefore known, at least locally, even though the entire country seemed to have forgotten.”
Mr. Chase was staying in Tairawhiti, but had decided to visit his family in Dannevirke.
His car was left in the Tamaki Reserve, just outside his hometown.
There was no evidence of injury or fractures on his body, and his clothes were “neat and not weathered,” indicating that he was not lost.
Mr. Temple-Camp believes Mr. Chase has been in the bush for a while even though he took a wrong turn.
“We found Jason in Nettle Gully. It’s a hard way down and surrounded by nettles and damn hard to get through.
“I thought he was coming back home and had chosen the wrong channel. He planned to come down a little further, but was mistaken. ‘