Two weeks, four deaths in the wa­ter

Fish­er­man dies at Ruakaka Beach after get­ting into dif­fi­culty

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page - Dan­ica Ma­cLean

Afourth sus­pected drown­ing in North­land in less than two weeks has brought the num­ber of wa­ter-re­lated tragedies to half of last year’s to­tal. Wa­ter Safety New Zealand fig­ures show there were eight preventable drown­ing deaths in North­land in 2018.

Wa­ter Safety NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonty Mills said the start to the year in North­land is a tragic sit­u­a­tion and one preventable drown­ing is one too many.

The lat­est sus­pected drown­ing hap­pened at Ruakaka Beach yes­ter­day, around 300m to 400m north of the Ruakaka race track, just after 7am.

Po­lice said a 51-year-old lo­cal man had waded out to re­trieve his fish­ing nets when he ap­par­ently got into dif­fi­culty.

Se­nior Sergeant Ryan Gray said an­other per­son went to help the man and got him back to shore. The man died at the scene while the sec­ond per­son was taken to Whanga¯rei Hos­pi­tal in a mod­er­ate con­di­tion.

It came less than two days after a man failed to sur­face while swim­ming at Whanga¯rei Falls.

Rel­a­tives and friends are mourn­ing the death of Filipino in­ter­na­tional stu­dent Kent Espinosa, after a body be­lieved to be his was re­cov­ered around 1.45pm on Satur­day from the Whanga¯rei Falls.

Po­lice were called to the pop­u­lar swim­ming spot and tourist at­trac­tion at 4.30pm on Fri­day. The search was halted that evening and re­sumed with the po­lice dive squad on Satur­day.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, Mhyreen Cor­dova, his cousin in the Philip­pines, posted on Face­book: “For those who sym­pa­thise in time of our grief . . . please do help us in pray­ing for Kenny’s soul. May God bless us all.”

A friend who was with Espinosa on Fri­day said they were out swim­ming at the falls when the stu­dent en­coun­tered dif­fi­cul­ties and went un­der. Espinosa, who was study­ing in Auck­land, was in Whanga¯rei for a sum­mer break.

“Yes, I saw him go un­der . . . it’s dif­fi­cult to talk now, and we’re with Vic­tim Sup­port,” said the friend, who did not want to be named.

Po­lice are yet to for­mally iden­tify the vic­tim.

The scene was blessed on Satur­day and the site has been re­opened to the pub­lic.

On Jan­uary 7, the body of 65-yearold Bruce Ngapera was found out on the wa­ter after he failed to re­turn from a fish­ing trip off Mo­tukaraka Pt on the Hokianga Har­bour.

On Jan­uary 4, Te Hei Kahu­rangi Rogers, 44, of Kaikohe, died in a div­ing ac­ci­dent near Mo­turoa Is­land in the Bay of Is­lands. The po­lice dive squad were also called to re­cover his body.

Wa­ter Safety NZ’s Mills said North­land was a pop­u­lar sum­mer lo­ca­tion with plenty of vis­i­tors as well as lo­cals mak­ing the most of lots of mag­nif­i­cent wa­ter­ways.

“We’ve got to have that level of re­spect for the wa­ter. It’s a play­ground, but it can be un­for­giv­ing and un­pre­dictable.”

His mes­sage was for peo­ple to be pre­pared, have lo­cal knowl­edge and know their own lim­its.

Mills said lo­cal knowl­edge meant things like know­ing the con­di­tions and know­ing where the safe places or hid­den dan­gers were. That was es­pe­cially im­por­tant for vis­i­tors.

He said, as al­ways, the safest place to swim are the beaches pa­trolled by the life­guards.

“They do a mag­nif­i­cent job but they can’t be at ev­ery beach.”

Photo / File

The po­lice dive squad was called to re­cover the body of Kent Espinosa from Whanga¯ rei Falls.

Photo / Face­book

A friend who was with Kent Espinosa (pic­tured) said they were swim­ming at the falls when he en­coun­tered dif­fi­cul­ties and went un­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.