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Oscar Winning Sound Editor Dies in New Zealand Rafting Accident

Oscar Winning Sound Editor Mike Hopkins
Mike Hopkins, seen here in 2008, was the supervising sound editor on all three “Lord of the Rings” films. Photographer: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Mike Hopkins, who won Academy Awards for sound editing on one of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films and “King Kong,” died while rafting in the Waiohine River in New Zealand yesterday, police said.

Hopkins, 53, drowned when he and two others were tossed out of an inflatable raft in a fast eddy on the river in Tararua National Park, northeast of Wellington, Nick Bohm, a spokesman for the Wellington Police District, said today in a phone interview.

“All three were wearing life jackets, wetsuits and helmets,” Bohm said. Hopkins’s companions survived uninjured, Bohm said.

Hopkins shared the 2003 Oscar for Best Sound Editing on “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and the 2006 Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing for “King Kong” with Ethan Van der Ryn, according to the Internet Movie Data Base. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing in 2008 for “Transformers.”

“Shocked and saddened by the loss of Mike Hopkins,” Mark Ordesky, executive producer of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, wrote today on Twitter. “Brilliant, humble #NZ artist.”

He was the supervising sound editor on all three “Lord of the Rings” films. Hopkins was the dialogue editor on Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” as well as the 1987 film “The Last Emperor.”

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