Missing Leo Lipp-Neighbours

Leo Lipp-Neighbours' station wagon. Photo: LeoLippNeighbours.co.nz

Police are completing their forensic investigation into the vehicle recovered from the Port Nelson seabed last week, and assessing its role in the disappearance of Leo Lipps-Neighbours seven years ago.

Leo Lipp-Neighbours, his best friend and flatmate Ben Clark said, seemed to be struggling with the complexities of life – disappeared without a trace, without reason and without contact with his family.

It seems that on the night he disappeared forever, he was in a ‘dark mood’, it is understood that on the night of January 24, 2010, he took off for some alone time after a night out on the town, according to his flatmate and best friend Ben Clark. Never to be seen again.

The stress this put his parents under was unimaginable, they scoured the whole top of the of the south Island – even putting up a $50,000 reward – unfortunately there was never a trace of either son or vehicle.

Through what seems like everyday unrelated events, with everyone just going about their individual days and lives, from the superyacht docking into Wakefield quay in port Nelson – carefully, to divers doing regular checks of the port seabed often passing within meters – if not feet, of the sunken vehicle.

Finally, a commercial diver who happened to be in the local area just doing his job was asked to check the rather unusual and possibly dangerous obstruction by the divers from the superyacht. He was familiar with the stories history and did find the seabed obstruction.

When he ran his hand across the surface of the obstruction it exposed a surface he was not expecting, an unusual orange finish. He instantly knew just how important this discovery was.

That discovery started an emotionally charged change of events. Due to the extended time of immersion, the seven years had had its effect.

With the combined speed and assistance of authorities, volunteers and family, the obstruction was lifted and found to be both as suspected and hoped for. The process being carefully watched over by family and friends.

The unfortunate and tragic resting place can finally be exhumed and the circumstances that caused this can be more fully understood and bring a sense of closure for all involved.

Dave Varley
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