Drowned teen ‘cheeky and fun’
The parents of a teenager who drowned in flash floods in Auckland on February 3 say he was taken ‘‘at a time when the world was just opening up to him’’.
Mitch Woolley, 17, died alongside his school friend Sosi Turagaiviu after trying to cross a swollen river in West Auckland’s Waita¯kere Ranges in the late afternoon. Their bodies were recovered later that evening.
Mitch had just left Massey High School and was about to start an apprenticeship as a marine engineer.
‘‘He had worked from the finish of the school year at a local business, and was about to start his journey,’’ parents Tracey and Mike said in a statement.
Mitch was also a keen surfer who had recently travelled to Germany on a school football trip.
‘‘He was always the cheeky and fun loving entertainer in any group.
‘‘Mitch’s infectious personality always ensured that there was a smile on the faces of family, friends and those that happened to meet him.’’
At the Massey house where 17-year-old Sosi lived, family and members of the wider Fijian community gathered on February 5 to pray, sing and remember a young man full of potential.
Sosi was due to start his final year at Massey High School on February 7, and pick up a new car the next day, family members said.
The boys had spent February 3 with Mitch’s twin brother Denver and two other friends, both 17-year-old boys, in and around the Waita¯ kere Ranges.
It was a place Mitch ‘‘lived in and loved, surrounded by the bush’’, his parents said.
Tracey and Mike Woolley also paid tribute to Sosi, saying they wanted his family to know they were thinking of them.
‘‘The boys spent many good times together,’’ they said.
Principal Glen Denham said both teens were both ‘‘vibrant, passionate young men who involved themselves fully in all aspects of school’’.
Both were talented sportmen – as well as football, Sosi was a keen basketballer, and Mitch played and coached waterpolo.
Denham said his sympathies were with the boys’ families and friends.
‘‘They will be sadly missed at Massey High School and never forgotten.’’
The two deaths have been referred to the coroner.
The Waita¯kere Ranges’ placid streams turned to raging torrents on February 3.