Members of Norway’s hard-pressed Labour Party were among those in mourning on Thursday, after one of their local mayors was killed in a boat accident during the night. Her partner, who also served as a top local official, was killed as well.
Ingrid Aune, the 33-year-old mayor of Malvik just east of Trondheim, and her 43-year-old partner Eivind Olav Kjelbotn Evensen, the municipal psychologist for Namsos, were killed when their pleasure boat crashed onto rocks in the Namsfjord just before 2am.
Police were called quickly to the scene after some local residents reported hearing a loud noise and the sound of a motor. The couple was airlifted to Namsos Hospital, where Evensen was declared dead on arrival. Police reported at a press conference Thursday that Aune had died later on Thursday morning.
“These are people who were very well-lnown in their respective towns,” police inspector Snorre Haugdahl told state broadcaster NRK. No one actually saw the boat crash, which is under investigation, and police declined to speculate on its cause. The state accident investigation board (Havarikommisjonen) was due to arrive in Namsos to launch its probe on Friday.
“This is a tragic incident that of course makes an impression on everyone living here, also us in the municipality,” top local official Inge Ryan told local newspaper Namdalsavisa. “It’s a sad day for Namsos.”
It was also a sad day for the Labour Party, where Aune was viewed as one of its most promising politicians. She was already a rising star in her home region of Trøndelag and was running for re-election in September after first becoming mayor of Malvik in 2015. She had been active in Labour’s youth organization AUF and worked as a political adviser in both the defense- and foreign ministries during former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s government.
Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre was on national radio Thursday afternoon declaring that “the entire Labour Party is grieving.” Aune’s death comes just as the municipal election campaigns are being launched, and she was expected to be an exuberant part of them.
“I’m full of sorrow,” Støre told NRK. “That she should lose her life together with her sweetheart in this boating accident is terribly sad and deeply affects us all.” He described Aune as both “young and experienced, engaged in small and big issues. Nobody was unaffected by a meeting with Ingrid. Labour has lost one of its most talented people.”
Stoltenberg, now secretary general of NATO, also expressed his grief on his Facebook page, saying her death was all but impossible to grasp and very sad. He also wrote that “we have lost a great political talent. She never gave up when fighting for what she believed in,” both at the local and national levels, when she “worked hard for a more safe and solid world.”
Opposition politicians were also hailing Aune. Sivert Bjørnstad, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party who also comes from Trøndelag, called her “a great gal, pure and simple. This is deeply, deeply tragic and just terrible. Ingrid was a warm fellow human being, an incredibly engaged politician and a good sparring partner … who cooperated with everyone.”
The bodies of both Aune and Evensen were being sent for autopsy, as part of the investigation into the boat crash.