Members of the public rushed to help a woman found floating unconscious at Rabbit Island beach yesterday, but it was too late.
Adelheid Wilma Stock, 71, of Nelson, had been swimming at the beach when she was found floating about 5pm.
Members of the public who knew her pulled her to the shore and performed CPR until police, an ambulance crew, firefighters and the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter arrived.
Helicopter duty pilot Duncan Gourley said ambulance and rescue helicopter crew tried for half an hour to resuscitate the woman but she died at the scene.
St John Ambulance shift manager Kris Gagliardi said the members of the public who knew her were off-duty medical practitioners.
It was a very sad incident, Mr Gagliardi said. It was uncertain how long the woman had been in the water and whether she was at the beach with anyone else, because she appeared to be alone, witnesses told St John ambulance crew.
It is the first drowning in the Nelson region since 2011.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said people should never swim alone. If something went wrong, it was always good to have people there in support.
The death has been referred to the coroner.
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