Drowned teen ‘cheeky and fun’

Western Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTERS

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.

COLIN ENNOR

The Waita¯kere Ranges’ placid streams turned to rag­ing tor­rents on Fe­bru­ary 3.

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