The Rere Rock Slide in Gisborne.
A South Korean man has drowned after diving into a
popular river rockslide pool to save his two children.
The accident happened about 3pm yesterday afternoon at the
bottom of the Rere rockslide, a tourist attraction on the
Wharekopae River, 50km north-west of Gisborne.
"The 40-year-old man, his wife and their two children, with
another young relative, were holidaying in Gisborne," said
search co-ordinator Sergeant Greg Lexmond.
"They went to the slide after reading about the attraction on
"The children wanted to experience it," he said.
Two of the children, under the age of 10, had gone down the
slide and got into trouble in the deep pool at the bottom.
"Their father jumped in and managed to push them both back to
the safety of the bank. But then he disappeared under the
water," Sgt Lexmond said.
"He disappeared immediately and went straight under."
Other people at the rockslide used a cellphone to raise the
alarm and went to a nearby farmhouse to get help.
"The man's wife was extremely traumatised. They all were
extremely upset, as you can imagine."
Police called out the ECT rescue helicopter at 3.30pm.
"The helicopter searched the river for a period of time
without success and then returned to Gisborne," a helicopter
"Police SAR members searched the area on the ground but found
no trace of the missing man and the national police dive
squad was called in," Sgt Lexmond said.
The dive team were unable to get to Gisborne by air.
"They flew to Napier and came the rest of the way by road,"
The team arrived on site at about midnight and immediately
started their search.
"They found the body of the missing man after searching for
about 10 minutes.
"He was located in the pool at the bottom of the slide, in
about 4 to 5 metres of water."
The body was recovered and taken to the Gisborne Hospital
A post-mortem examination was to be conducted to determine
the exact cause of death.
The fire service sent their command vehicle to the scene.
They set up lighting on the riverbank to assist with the
Police have praised the actions of farmers who supported the
"A consulate official is coming to Gisborne today to support
the man's family, who are being cared for by Victim Support,"
Sgt Lexmond said.
The river level over the water slide was not considered
extreme at the time of the tragedy.
"The flow of water over the slide was not abnormal but
obviously the children and the family were not prepared for
how deep the plunge was at the bottom."
The name of the dead man has not been released at this stage.
- Gisborne Herald