Father thanks partygoer for helping daughter

Sophia Crestani
Sophia Crestani
A man has been thanked by Sophia Crestani’s father for carrying the young woman to help as she was turning blue.

Coroner Heather McKenzie’s inquest into the 19-year-old’s death continued yesterday in Dunedin.

Miss Crestani died in a stairwell pile-up in 2019 at a flat party dubbed "Maggot Fest", which 400 people were invited to via Facebook.

Since then, her parents — Elspeth McMillan and Bede Crestani — have advocated for safe student behaviour in Dunedin.

Jackson Egerton was in the crush on the stairs at the flat known as "The Manor".

"I couldn’t stop the pushing from behind," he said.

"The next thing I remember is holding the girl who passed away."

He said she was turning "pale and blue" and he carried her outside and emergency service staff performed CPR on her.

"I was honestly just in shock. Obviously it was quite a traumatic experience for me," Mr Egerton said.

Through teary eyes, Mr Crestani gave a heartfelt thanks to the witness for his attempt to help his daughter.

"Jackson, you picked up our daughter ... you took her outside to try and save her. Thank you."

"Sorry I couldn’t be more help," the witness replied.

"You did everything you could — more than most."

Ryan Forlong was caught in the pile-up and held Miss Crestani’s hand while looking at her face.

"She had a vacant look on her face as if she knew this was going to end badly," he said.

He said it appeared she had "given up almost".

Mr Forlong was pretty confident Miss Crestani was at the very bottom of the pile-up against the floor.

"We were not piled high, but more tangled and intertwined," the witness said.

"At times I was finding it hard to breathe because of the weight of people on me," Mr Forlong said.

He explained the event was traumatic for him and Mr Crestani thanked him for caring about his daughter when he was scared for himself.

"It all just happened so fast," Mr Forlong said.

"That could’ve been me or anyone else."

Kennedy Nichols said she had been to parties at "The Manor" before and had experienced overcrowding on the staircase, but not as bad as the night in question.

"I seriously considered jumping off the roof to the ground as I had concerns about going back down the stairs," the witness said.

She said people were "hammering" on a bedroom door but the occupants refused to open it.

"That really upset me as that was my only hope gone," Ms Nichols said.

"People were hysterical, yelling and crying."

The witness said she did not believe people appreciated how close so many had come to death.

Another witness, whose identity cannot be revealed, believed she was pulled into a bedroom by a tenant at "The Manor".

"It was loud, there was screaming," she said.

"I don’t think anyone in the bedroom knew the extent of what was going on outside."

She said she could hear "panicky screams" from in the flat but did not think much of it at the time.

The inquest will resume today and more partygoers are expected to give evidence.