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Police have found the body of a tramper swept away while
crossing a stream on the Milford Track.
A police spokeswoman confirmed the victim as Indonesian
national Yessica Asmin (22), who was living in Sydney and
studied at the University of New South Wales.
Searchers found Ms Asmin in the Clinton River this afternoon,
about 1.8km south of where she was last seen.
The woman's family had arrived
in the country and were being supported by police. They had
asked for privacy.
Earlier today, Noel Saxon, general manager of
Queenstown-based Ultimate Hikes, said his company had guided
thousands of trekkers through that area.
Pompolona Creek has a reputation for rising and falling very
quickly, in a couple of hours. Even with a bridge over it, we
would often hold our guided walkers back and wait until it
was safe to cross.
"Those creeks would be very difficult, in fact impossible, to
pass in heavy rainfall. It can be quite dangerous.
"The big thing about that area is that it's completely safe,
if it's regarded with respect. A bridge makes a huge
difference. Without a bridge, it needs to be regarded with
respect. Often within a couple of hours, it would be safe to
cross. Maybe just having that knowledge is what has gone
Backpacker tried to rescue woman
A German backpacker slipped and smashed his shoulder and
mouth on wet rocks as he tried to rescue an Australian woman
who fell into a freezing river on the Milford Track on
The woman was hiking with her Australian partner when she was
caught in the Pompolona Creek about 3pm on Monday and was
swept into the Clinton River.
Sebastian Keilholz, 20, from Bamberg in Germany, was with the
couple - he called them ‘‘Jessica" and ‘‘Jean" - when they
reached the creek. The river was so inflated from pouring
rain that they could not see the normal stepping stones, he
told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Jean, 26, and Sebastian crossed first, before Jean went back
to help Jessica cross. But as they crossed together, the
river overpowered Jean mid-stream and he fell. He managed to
grab a rock to halt his slide until Sebastian could reach him
and pull him out.
Jessica was also mid-stream when she was overwhelmed by the
force of the water.
"We told her to stay there, where she was, but she was so in
panic, that she also fell into the stream," Sebastian told
the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Jean was saved so I ran as fast as I could to help Jessica.
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 Jessica was gone."
They activated an emergency beacon, which was picked up by
the National Rescue Co-ordination Centre about 6pm Monday,
but poor weather prevented a helicopter rescue. Helicopter
searches yesterday morning and afternoon found no sign of
Sebastian ran on to Mintaro Hutt, where he gathered other
hikers to return to the creek and rescue Jean, who was
suffering from shock.
Sebastian was upset about the condition of the river
"I'm angry that they didn't tell us that there are no bridges
and I'm angry that I couldn't help her.
"I would never go (on) such a dangerous track if I knew that
there are no bridges. I hope they will find Jessica in the
Police said another group of walkers had crossed the same
stretch without difficulty about two hours before them.
A crew from Southern Lakes Helicopters spent yesterday
afternoon searching for the woman, but stopped searching when
it became dark.
Senior Sergeant Fairley said Te Anau police and Rescue
Co-ordination Centre New Zealand would reassess their search
plans on this morning, but he stressed conditions were
Police were working with Department of Conservation staff and
LandSAR volunteers. Jean is understood to be in shock, but
helping the rescue team. Jessica's family are on their way to
Pompolona Creek was high after recent rain and weather
conditions were poor. Rain continued yesterday afternoon and
MetService issued a severe weather warning for the area.
Between 170mm and 210mm of rain was expected this morning,
with "significant spillover rain" about the headwaters of
Otago lakes and rivers.
The Milford Track Great Walk is closed to guided walkers from
May 1 to October 27 but is open to independent trampers with