Police investigate teen's death in bath

'We're focusing on a nice funeral for him'

Last updated 08:16 14/01/2014
Nathan Booker
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ
TRAGIC DEATH: In a photo taken last year, Nathan Booker, then 14, checked out interactive peg books donated to the special needs unit of Awatapu College.

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The mother of a high needs teen who died in a bath in Palmerston North while in respite care says she is focused on giving her son a nice funeral.

Nathan Booker, 15, was found submerged in the bath at the Woburn Family Support Centre, run by Idea Services, on Friday evening.

A St John ambulance was called and he was taken to the Palmerston North Hospital intensive care unit.

He was pronounced dead just before midnight.

A police investigation has been launched to determine how Nathan, who had cerebral palsy, drowned.

His mother, Angela Middlemiss, said she had spoken with police about the incident, and was struggling to come to terms with her loss.

"We don't know what has happened so we can't make any comments yet," she said. "We are just focusing on a nice funeral for him."

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan said police were investigating on behalf of the coroner.

The respite care facility and victim support were working with the family.

The investigation was expected to take a couple of weeks, he said.

IHC New Zealand, which owns Idea Services, said an internal investigation was also being undertaken.

Media spokeswoman Paula McArthur would not comment on whether the facility was understaffed at the time, or whether there had been previous incidents.

"At the moment we are working with the police and, as it will ultimately be before the coroner, we are unable to say anything," she said.

"We are working with the family and they are very clear about what they would like to do, and we are following their wishes and working in with the police."

She said the organisation was in the process of notifying other families who used the centre.

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- Manawatu Standard

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