The partner of a
tramper who died after being swept into a river in Fiordland
expressed his grief yesterday at losing a loved one.
Sean Mcnabb (26), of Sydney, posted on his Facebook page:
''Today I lost a part of me. I'm very lost at this time.''
Mr Mcnabb's Indonesian partner Yessica Asmin was swept away
on Monday while crossing the swollen Pompolona Creek, which
feeds the Clinton River, on the Milford Track.
Miss Asmin was living in Sydney and studying at the
University of New South Wales.
Western Southland area response manager Senior Sergeant
Cynthia Fairley confirmed police and search and rescue staff
recovered the 22-year-old's body from the Clinton River at
The body was seen from the air by the search party.
Miss Asmin was attempting to cross the Pompolona Creek, which
another group of walkers had crossed without difficulty about
two hours before, when she was swept away about 3pm.
Search party member Lloyd Matheson, of Southern Lakes
Helicopters, said the search party was ''sombre'' following the
discovery of Miss Asmin's body.
''It's a sad ending to some poor girl's adventure overseas,''
he said last night.
He was pleased the group was able to ''bring closure to a
horrible scenario'' for the family by locating Miss Asmin.
Snr Sgt Fairley said fading light, the trampers' inexperience
and weather conditions had likely added to their difficulty
crossing the stream.
''I don't know how experienced they were to deal with the
conditions, with the creek crossings that they were doing and
the amount of rainfall they had,'' she said.
''It's glacier- and avalanche-fed creeks and rivers in there,
so it's only a matter of hours before things can be totally
''If you're not confident in crossing a river like that, the
best option is to just stay put or head back for shelter.
''But they're young guys and they obviously thought they
could make it. It's just a real tragedy.''
A German tourist who accompanied Miss Asmin and Mr Mcnabb
on their ''freedom walking'' trek told the Sydney Morning
Herald how he had slipped and smashed his shoulder and mouth on
wet rocks as he tried to rescue Miss Asmin.
Sebastian Keilholz (20), of Bamberg, said Miss Asmin was
mid-stream when she was overwhelmed by the water.
He and Mr Mcnabb crossed the rain-swollen stream first and
then Mr Mcnabb went back to help Miss Asmin cross. But as
they crossed together, the river overpowered Mr Mcnabb
mid-stream and he fell. He grabbed a rock to halt his slide
until Mr Keilholz could reach him and pull him out.
''We told her to stay there, where she was, but she was so in
panic that she also fell into the stream,'' he said.
''Sean was saved so I ran as fast as I could to help Yessica.
I fell two times, but I stood up and ran.
''The rocks were so slippery, that I fell again, two times on
my shoulder and then on my mouth. My teeth were broken, blood
came out of my mouth and Yessica was gone.''
The two men activated an emergency beacon, which was picked
up by the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre about 6pm on
Monday, but poor weather prevented a helicopter rescue.
Snr Sgt Fairley said: ''The German tourist ran to that
[Mintaro] hut and they went back and found the boyfriend.
This second party took them back up to that hut and they
stayed the night.''
The men were quite fortunate to make it up to the hut because
they were wet, injured and it was getting cold, she said.
Miss Asmin's parents arrived in Te Anau late yesterday with a
family friend, who was acting as their translator.
They are also being supported by an Indonesian embassy
representative, who had travelled from Christchurch. Her
parents travelled to Invercargill last night.
Mr Mcnabb and Mr Keilholz returned to Queenstown on Tuesday.
The trio had started the Milford Track Great Walk from Te
Anau on Monday morning.
The track is closed to guided walkers from May 1 to October
27 but is open, with reduced facilities, to independent
Bad weather had prevented a helicopter reaching the area
until 7.30am on Tuesday, when Mr Mcnabb and Mr Keilholz were
Mr Mcnabb was being helped by Victim Support and was ''pretty
shocked and fatigued'', Snr Sgt Fairley said.
His family was on their way to New Zealand.
The death will be referred to the coroner. - Additional
reporting Fiordland Advocate/APNZ