Briton, American die in New Zealand kayak accident
Two tourists killed in a freak storm while kayaking on a New Zealand lake were identified Saturday as a Briton and an American, police said.
Police said Daniel Thomas Hollnsteiner, 21, of New York, and 20-year-old Londoner James Robert Murphy were among a group of 11 kayakers who hit bad weather after heading out onto Lake Tekapo on Friday afternoon.
The nine survivors were treated for hypothermia after spending up to an hour in the freezing waters, with some swimming to a nearby island before being rescued.
“Lake Tekapo’s an extremely dangerous lake, it’s extremely savage. It’s very, very cold, the winds get up very quickly,” police inspector Dave Gaskin told reporters.
“It appears their boats got swamped and they were tipped out… they’ve just got caught out by a freak wind, unfortunately here we do get freak winds too regularly.”
The deceased were students at Australia’s Monash University who were in New Zealand’s South Island on a semester break. It was not yet known how many of the others were studying at the Melbourne institution.
Local media said the group, aged in their late teens and early 20s, were from Britain and the United States.
“Our university community is deeply saddened by the news of the tragic deaths of two of our students in a kayaking accident on the South Island of New Zealand,” Monash University said in a statement.
“Monash has sent a senior member of our management team to New Zealand to support the other students there at this difficult time.”
Three members of the group received hospital treatment overnight Friday but police said they were expected to be discharged within hours.
Police said investigations into the cause of the tragedy would continue over the weekend and the matter would be referred to the coroner.
A local resident, who did not want to be named, told the New Zealand Herald that there had been a very strong wind on the lake on Friday afternoon although the newspaper said no official weather warnings had been in place at the time.