Child fights for life after motel pool drama

A 9-year-old from Fiji - believed to be in New Zealand for the Parachute music festival - was fighting for her life last night after nearly drowning in a motel pool.

The young girl was in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital.

Senior Sergeant Stephen Ambler said police were called to the Ulster St motel about 4pm yesterday. "I understand she got into difficulties while swimming alone," Ambler said.

"She was revived by ambulance officers at the scene. They worked on her for 20-30 minutes before locating a pulse.

"I believe she may have been part of a church group who were here to attend the Parachute festival."

Classic Motel neighbour Lance Duncan said he heard cries for help just before 4pm. "I heard a whole lot of screaming, but there wasn't much I could do. The ambulance came not long after."

Meanwhile, a critically injured baby girl was taken to hospital by rescue helicopter after a Bay of Plenty road accident which also critically injured a 2-year-old girl.

The girls were travelling with a 70-year-old man, a 64-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy when their vehicle left State Highway 2 near Opotiki bridge and crashed into a tree.

The adults, who were returning from a tangi, were transferred from Whakatane to Waikato Hospital last night.

The boy was treated at Whakatane Hospital and discharged.

Both girls were flown to Waikato Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman said they were still being assessed in the emergency department when the Herald on Sunday went to press.

A rescue services member said the driver of the crashed vehicle might have suffered a seizure and collapsed at the wheel. The police serious crash unit is investigating.

Also last night, a Westpac rescue helicopter was called in after a boat with eight people on board broke down southeast of Little Barrier Island.

Crewman Mark Cannell said the helicopter located the vessel and directed a private boat to the scene, which helped until the Coastguard took the vessel under tow.

- Ciaran Warner and Cherie Howie of the Herald on Sunday

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