Teen found at bottom of pool dies

JONATHAN CARSON AND SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 09:34 27/01/2014
Classic Motel
BRUCE MERCER/ Fairfax NZ

GRISLY FIND: A pastor discovered the body of a teenager at the bottom of the Classic Motel's swimming pool.

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A young woman who was rushed to hospital after being found at the bottom of a motel swimming pool in Hamilton has died.

Police have confirmed that Deepika Kumar, 18, died in hospital about 10.40pm Sunday.

She was supposed to head back to Fiji tomorrow to begin training as a teacher.

Kumar was discovered in the Classic Motel's pool in Ulster St at 4pm on Saturday by Reverend Sandra Williams, with whom she had attended the Parachute Christian music festival at Mystery Creek Event Centre.

Waikato bishop elect Dr Helen-Ann Hartley was at Miss Kumar's bedside last night.

''This is a tragic, tragic accident affecting many people near and far: Christchurch, Wellington, this diocese of Waikato and Taranaki, and Suva, Fiji,'' she said in a statement.

''Not least, this has affected the life of a truly remarkable young woman who touched so many lives in a short time, a woman with a life of huge promise.''

Jordan Mohi, 33, whose two-storey house overlooks the pool, heard Williams screaming.

"At first he didn't know where the screaming was coming from," his father, Kahu Mohi, said.

"By the time he looked out of the window he saw a lady dragging somebody from the pool."

Guests performed CPR on Kumar until paramedics arrived.

"He was pretty shaken by what he saw. He said a lot of people were trying to help her and one woman was getting instructions about what to do over the phone."

Firefighters and St John Ambulance staff managed to get Miss Kumar to the point where she was showing signs of life.

Williams, priest in charge of St Mary's Anglican Church in Whitby near Wellington, and her husband, Glen, were hosting Kumar for a few weeks after she had completed her schooling at St Christopher's Home in Suva, Fiji.

Yesterday they were at her bedside at Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit and being supported by the wider church. They asked Reverend Jayson Rhodes to speak on their behalf.

"Dee had been in care of St Christopher's Home for two years and Sandra and Glen have a special relationship with the home and they offered to host her for a while," Rhodes said.

Rhodes said New Zealand's Christian community had united to pray for Kumar and the Williams family.

"We are praying, in a time of turmoil, for Dee and those gathered around her in what is a time of everybody's worst nightmare," Rhodes said.

Waikato police Inspector John Kelly said police were investigating and had already spoken to Classic Motel guests and staff. A motel staff member, who declined to give her name, said it was a "tragic accident".

"Out of respect for our guests we won't be saying anything but police have told us nobody is to blame."

It's not the first time a drowning has hit the Christian music festival. Takapuna youth pastor Andrew Atkinson, 22, drowned in 2007 after jumping of the Narrows bridge into the Waikato River on Airport Rd. He failed to resurface. He and his youth group had gone to the river from the festival to cool off.

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