Man killed in balcony fall had been drinking
BLAIR ENSOR AND SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
A holidaymaker who died after falling from a hotel balcony had been drinking alcohol with his wife and four friends before the incident.
West Coast police are investigating the fatal plunge which occurred at the Beachfront Hotel in Hokitika about midnight on Saturday.
The 58-year-old man, from Christchurch, fell from a third floor balcony. He was transferred to Grey Base Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police completed a scene examination yesterday and the death was not being treated as suspicious, police said.
The coroner had been advised.
Detective Michel Bloom said the man had been drinking in a hotel room with his wife and two other Christchurch couples.
He had ventured out onto the balcony alone. When he did not return, his wife and friends went to look for him and discovered he had fallen.
The man had consumed a ''fair amount of alcohol'' which ''could well have been'' a contributing factor in the fall, Bloom said.
Blood tests would determine exactly how much he had had to drink.
Police had yet to interview everyone who was in the hotel room at the time.
The man's wife and friends were ''very upset'', Bloom said.
The three couples had been holidaying on the West Coast and had visited places like Punakaiki.
Bloom said members of the man's family were yet to be advised of his death. His name would likely be released this afternoon.
When asked about the standard of railings on the balcony at the hotel, Bloom said: "The fact it's such a big hotel you would like to think the railings are all up to the legal requirement . . . but it's definitely being looked into."
Beachfront Hotel board chairman Peter Cuff said the hotel staff were "shocked and upset" to hear a guest had died.
Victim Support had been contacted and would arrive today to talk to staff that had been involved.
Cuff said there did not appear to be any structural failing of the balcony that lead to the man falling. He said there was no issue with the rooms continuing to be used.
The man's wife and friends did not stay in the hotel last night.
The hotel, which has five-star rooms, hosted Prince William, John Key and government officials in March 2011 following their visit to the Pike River families in Greymouth.
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