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Mike Hopkins, Oscar-Winning Sound Editor, Dies in Rafting Accident

The "Lord of the Rings" sound editor was 53

Mike Hopkins, the Oscar-winning sound editor behind "King Kong" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, died in a drowning accident in New Zealand on Sunday. He was 53.

Hopkins (pictured right) was rafting with friends through the Tararua Range on New Zealand's North Island when the raft capsized, throwing him into the Waiohine River, according to the Australian.

Hopkins was wearing a wetsuit, lifejacket and a helmet, but the river's fast flow dragged him under, police told the newspaper.

The sound editor shared an Oscar with Ethan Van der Ryn for best achievement in sound editing for "King Kong" in 2006. Before that, the duo won the Oscar for best sound editing on the second installment in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers."

In 2007, he was also nominated for his work on the first film of the "Transformers" franchise.

Hopkins was also nominated for five British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, and worked on such films as "Kung Fu Panda," "Dreamgirls" and "Valkyrie."