2 Years After Losing Hunter Donghi, Rugby Grapples With the Untimely Death of Caleb Baker

Published 02/11/2024, 9:15 AM EST

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Caleb Baker, a young, aspiring rugby prospect, has lost his life in the most unfortunate manner. Baker, who played for the Napier Technical, was reportedly involved in a gruesome crash that involved at least four vehicles. The accident took place on the Hawke’s Bay Expressway early morning on Friday. The 22-year-old received a series of injuries, for which he was taken to the nearby hospital soon after the crash. However, the injuries proved to be deadly as Baker succumbed. 

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A dark cloud of sorrow hovers over the family of the young athlete. They have stated in their official statement that the incident has left all of their hearts “shattered into a thousand pieces.” The tragedy comes 2 years after the loss of Baker’s former teammate.

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In an official statement provided by the family, they described Baker as someone whose laughter was infectious and someone who was always cheerful. Another spokeswoman stated on behalf of his family that Baker was passionate about hunting and rugby. His playful charm was enough to make him the center of attraction at every gathering. 

They further informed that Caleb Baker grew up in Hawke’s Bay and then shifted to Australia temporarily before coming back once again. Thanking the ones who have prayed and supported the family in dark times, Baker’s family wrote, His loss has shattered us into a thousand pieces, and we thank you all for the messages, aroha and support during this incredibly challenging time.”

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Quite like his family members, Baker’s friends, too, were heartbroken. One of his teammates from Napier Tech, Tane Hiha, stated, “Caleb was the mate who always brought the good energy.” Echoing the sentiments of Baker’s family, Hiha also described him as the one who could make everyone smile, no matter how grim the situation was. 

While the friends and family of Baker mourn his loss, the situation within the Napier Tech’s dressing room is even more grim.

Napier Technical’s Hunter Donghi succumbed to cancer

Just a couple of years back, another prominent prospect of the club, Hunter Donghi, was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer. Unfortunately, he breathed his last, reportedly just 3 months within 3 months of learning about his cancer, in March 2022 at the young age of 20. 

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The community reportedly raised $70,00o t0 support Donghi, who, according to nzhearld, had lost his father to cancer when he was just 9 years old.

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Caleb Baker seemed to have grown a close-knit bond with Donghi in the short span of time since they knew each other. Speaking about the loss, former club President Jamie Bryant stated,We now wrestle with the heartbreak and extreme sadness of losing another incredible young man far too soon.”  Even amidst the grief, the only silver lining is the fact that each member of the team believes the fact that, “Hunter and Caleb will be together and watching out for us all.” 

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The Napier Technical Clubrooms is said to be hosting the funeral of Caleb Baker in Marewa on Wednesday, February 13. 

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Written by:

Disita Sikdar

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One take at a time

Words have the power to inspire and unite, and I am dedicated to making that happen! As a passionate Viral Sports writer at EssentiallySports, my past experiences as a content creator and social media manager have only fueled my drive to bring the world of sports to life. My love affair with American sports finds its epicenter in WWE. Since childhood, I have been enthralled by the dazzling world of WWE, captivated by its awe-inspiring storylines that blur the lines between sports and theatre! My coverage brings out the electrifying excitement of WWE, the poetic beauty of Soccer, and the fierce battles on the Tennis court.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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