Police tightlipped over fatal balcony fall

Staff at the Beachfront Hotel in Hokitika have been offered support after a Canterbury visitor who had been socialising at the hotel with his wife and friends fell 16 metres from the balcony to his death on Saturday night.

The 58-year-old died on the way to hospital shortly after falling.

Beachfront Hotel board chairman Peter Cuff said today staff got a call about 11.30pm to say someone had fallen off the third-storey balcony.

Four staff members helped until the ambulance arrived.

"The staff are shocked and upset to learn he has subsequently died," Mr Cuff said.

Victim Support counselling had been arranged for the staff. Mr Cuff also offered the hotel's condolences to the victim's family and friends. He said they could not imagine how the man fell.

Detective Michel Bloom, of Greymouth police CIB, was tight-lipped today, saying other media reports that the man had been drinking and had been in a good mood, had misquoted him.

He referred to a brief press statement which said only that inquiries were continuing, and police had yet to complete interviews with members of his group. The man and his wife had apparently been staying in Hokitika with two other couples.

Police said the dead man's name would not be released until next of kin had been notified.

- Laura Mills of the Greymouth Star

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