Family vigil as search for diver goes on

By Abby Gillies

Search and rescue teams search Lake Pupuke. Photo / Doug Sherring
Search and rescue teams search Lake Pupuke. Photo / Doug Sherring

The family of missing diver Daniel Stoneham say they are unable to start the grieving process until his body is recovered from Lake Pupuke.

Stoneham, 33, was presumed drowned while his friend Tyron Smith, 37, died in an accident on the final day of their four-month training programme.

A third diver from the Adventure Education course run in Auckland by Helix Training Ltd was injured in Friday's accident.

Stoneham's brother-n-law Riki Taniwha said the missing man's wife and children were still anxiously awaiting grim confirmation of his death.

"We cant grieve until we've got the body."

Taniwha paid tribute to Stoneham, adding that he was desperate to "get ticketed" as a qualified diver.

"He loved the water and to dive and to fish. He wanted to go deep-sea diving. He wanted to get ticketed and progress into a [diving] career. He was one of the best, humble.

He'd do anything for you. Kind, giving and loving.

"For our side of the family it hasn't really sunk in at home."

Family held a vigil yesterday for both men.

The divers were nearing the end of four- and five-month training programmes and were working towards their tertiary diving qualifications, said general manager Sharon Sutherland.

Company bosses hired a public relations company to deal with media inquiries. PR spokeswoman Bridgette Paton-Tapsell refused to answer any questions about the diving incident.

"That's something that you will have to run past the police," she said.

The Police National Dive Team were continuing to search the lake, using sonar equipment in depths of more than 30m.

- Herald on Sunday

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