Police investigate boy's hot pool death

00:02, Dec 31 2010

Police have launched an investigation following the death of a boy after he fell into a geothermal hot pool in Rotorua.

The 10-year-old boy, who suffered burns to his entire body, died yesterday after being kept alive till family arrived.

The parents of Toromon, whose surname has not been made public, had kept a vigil by his bedside at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital since he was admitted on Sunday night.

Rotorua Area Commander Inspector Bruce Horne said they were investigating as the statutory agent for the Coroner, who would make a determination at a later stage.

He appealed for witnesses who may have seen the boy or his older brother at the time of the accident to come forward.

"This is a tragic outcome, both for the family and all those involved. Our sympathies are with them during this very difficult time.  Our aim is to complete the investigation as quickly as possible, to allow them to move on with their grief," Mr Horne said.


Surgeon Richard Wong She said Toromon was "burned 100 per cent" and had been kept alive till his family could gather and say their goodbyes.

"One does not survive that and the reason he has gone on for so many days is that he is a young man. It's just tragic, tragic and awful."

But it is still a mystery as to how Toromon came to be injured so severely on Boxing Day at Rotorua's Kuirau Park, where pools can reach 100 degrees Celsius.

Rotorua District Council parks and recreation manager Garry Page said he had some witness accounts that Toromon had climbed a fence surrounding a mud pool and then slipped.

He said one person at the scene had told him he heard Toromon's siblings say: "I told you not to jump in."

But he still had no clear idea which pool the boy fell into and was appealing for information from witnesses.

Dr Wong She said it was the first case of burns from a geothermal pool he had dealt with.

"I've dealt with a lot of burns and I've dealt with a lot of death, but never from a geothermal pool. This will be a first and hopefully the last.

"The tragic part about this is ... we don't even know how it happened. But it's a moment that has cost him his life – and there is nothing that I can do to fix it.

"I can't imagine the grief his family are going through. What would have been a Boxing Day picnic or celebration has ended in tragedy."

The Pacific Island family, who live in Waikato, do not speak much English and Dr Wong said she had been communicating with them with the help of a family member.

Middlemore Hospital clinical burns specialist Mark Wiggins had helped the family since Toromon was admitted.

Mr Wiggins said the family were "beautiful" and that they were very grateful for the support they had been receiving. "They're dealing with it as it goes along," he said earlier yesterday before Toromon died.

The council's Mr Page said he received an email from one person who had provided first aid to Toromon soon after the incident. Toromon had "significant mud on him, which was sluiced off him as part of his first aid".

The fact there was mud indicated Toromon was unlikely to have fallen into a hot pool.

"I'm confident that all of our pools are adequately fenced. Providing people stay behind the fencing, it's all perfectly safe."

Mr Page said he had been in touch with police about the matter but unless there was a misdemeanour, there would be no investigation.

The Dominion Post