Christian youth leader dies at swimming spot near festival

The man who died after jumping from a bridge into the Waikato River was today described as a committed Christian and a youth leader in his church.

The 22-year-old Aucklander was one of an estimated 28,000 attending the Parachute 07 Christian music festival at Mystery Creek in Hamilton when he went missing yesterday.

He was swimming with friends at Narrows Landing, on Airport Road, around lunchtime when he decided to jump from Narrows Bridge.

He did not resurface and a police dive squad from Wellington began a search at 5.15pm, recovering his body just before 8pm.

Police have not yet released his name.

Parachute Trust chairman Martyn Norrie said prayers were said at the festival last night for the man's family, his friends and his church.

"The crowd was naturally shocked by the news," he said.

"It was something that has not happened before."

Mr Norrie said the spot where the incident occurred was about 2km from the festival site and he understood it was a popular swimming area for locals.

He said the man and his friends hadn't done anything wrong and had just decided to cool off on a hot day.

However, festival staff had been posted there to advise people against going into the water because of the danger, although they couldn't stop anyone from doing so because it was a public area.

"Within the festival site, we don't allow anyone into the river at all," Mr Norrie said.

The festival, described as the biggest of its kind outside the United States, is due to end today.


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