4 May 2019

Family, friends grieve for NZ sailor killed in Panama

2:36 pm on 4 May 2019

Family and friends of the New Zealand man who was killed, reportedly by pirates, on a boat in Panama are heartbroken.

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Derryn and Alan Culverwell Photo: Supplied

Alan Culverwell was killed while defending his wife and two children in a remote part of Guna Yala, on the north eastern coast of Panama, on 2 May.

Over $14,000 has been raised on a GoFundMe page set up for the family.

The page states the family had been "cruising the Caribbean" for the last two years and were headed to the Panama Canal on their voyage back to New Zealand when the attack took place.

Mr Culverwell is being remembered by family and friends as a "dedicated, loving" man whose family meant everything to him.

In a statement on behalf of the family, his sister, Derryn Hughes, said they are "devastated".

"Nothing could have prepared us for the attack that took place overnight and has tragically taken Alan's life," she said.

Ms Hughes said Mr Culverwell's wife, who is also named Derryn, and their two children are "traumatised but safe" following the attack.

"We are so grateful that they survived this attack and we will work as a family to support them through the coming days, weeks, months and years," she said.

Ms Hughes thanked friends and family members who are on their way to Panama. She also thanked MFAT, the police and Interpol.

Tributes are pouring in on social media for Mr Culverwell, with a local councillor, Nadine Taylor, describing him as a well-respected member of the Picton community.

In a post on Facebook, she said he had been a long-serving director of the Paua Industry Council, which has set up a bank account for donations on the family's behalf.

The police in Panama are investigating the attack. Panama's Minister of Security has vowed to bring the killers to justice.