Couple who drowned in Christchurch lake will 'live in the hearts' of their loved ones
A much-loved couple who drowned in a suburban Christchurch lake will "continue to live" in the hearts of their family.
Hundreds gathered in Linwood's AvonPark Chapel on Tuesday to farewell Avneel and Sheetal Ram. Avneel Ram, 26, was teaching his 31-year-old wife how to drive when she put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake, sending the car into a lake at Halswell's Westlake Reserve on September 12.
Avneel Ram was standing outside the car talking with his wife when the car went into the lake. He swam in after her as the two-door Toyota Cynos sank below the surface. A witness said he dove under three or four times, then did not resurface. The couple left behind a 5-month-old daughter, who was with her grandmother when the accident happened.
* Deadly driving lesson: Bodies found in Christchurch lake
* West Coast bridges blasted after fatal river crash
* One dead, three children rescued from upside-down car in West Coast river
* Almost 100 days and no sign of Michael McGrath
A family member paid tribute to the couple at Tuesday's service, saying "Avneel gave up his life for Sheetal".
"We all profess that we love each other, but how much? He gave up life trying to desperately save her. He came up three times, but he did not give up, he went down again to find her. He just did not want to leave without her," she said.
"I am not going to use the past tense, they live in our hearts and they will continue to live in our hearts."
Another family member described Avneel Ram as a "great father, an honourable son, a best friend and a beautiful soul".
"He was the most humble, most caring and most loving," he said.
Avneel Ram was well-known in the Fijian-Indian community and ran an air conditioning business. The couple married in February 2016, about a year after Sheetal Ram moved to New Zealand from Fiji.
Canterbury metro area commander Superintendent Lane Todd said the police investigation into the deaths was continuing and would conclude in about three to four weeks.