Teenager who died in pool had bright future

Deepika Kumar died in Waikato Hospital on Sunday.
Deepika Kumar died in Waikato Hospital on Sunday.
A teenager who died after she was pulled from a Hamilton motel swimming pool had lived in an orphanage, and had a promising teaching career ahead of her.

Deepika Kumar died in Waikato Hospital about 10.40pm on Sunday after she was found at the bottom of a motel pool the day before.

The 18-year-old, who had been attending the Parachute music festival, was due to return to Suva, where she had been accepted to start teacher training at a university.

The Anglican Bishop-elect of Waikato, Helen-Ann Hartley, said there was immense grief among Deepika's friends both in Fiji and New Zealand.

She said the mother superior of the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Name in Fiji was arriving in Auckland today from Tonga to accompany Deepika's body back to Suva after a post-mortem examination.

Bishop Hartley was unclear about Deepika's family circumstances but said St Christopher's in Suva, which is an orphanage that also provides mentoring for disadvantaged children, was "for all intents and purposes her family" for the past two years.

It also remained unclear what happened to her before being found unconscious in the pool. "There is still some clarity to be worked on on that so the best thing to say is it's really a tragic, tragic accident and the loss of a young woman who was remarkable and had a life of such promise ahead of her," she said.

Archbishop Philip Richardson said the prayers of the church were with the community that had cared for her. He said Deepika had become part of St Mary's parish in Whitby, Porirua, since arriving in December, and had been staying with a family who treated her as a daughter.

Police said Ms Kumar was on her own for 20 minutes before she was found at the bottom of the pool but they were unsure how long she had been underwater.

Water Safety NZ chief executive Matt Claridge said about four people in the 5 to 18 age bracket had drowned in swimming pools in recent years.

He didn't know the details surrounding Deepika's death but said: "My reactionary message is never to swim alone."

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