Grieving father hopes fall was accident

By Andrew Koubaridis

The Auckland Harbour Oaks Hotel. Photo / Natalie Slade
The Auckland Harbour Oaks Hotel. Photo / Natalie Slade

The Mexican engineer whose wife and baby daughter fell 26 floors to their deaths from a Central Auckland building is holding on to hope the tragedy could have been an accident.

Adolfo Preciado Quiroz has returned to Mexico with the ashes of Karla Ayala Labastida and 3-month- old Dania Preciado Ayala without knowing exactly what caused the fall from the Auckland Harbour Oaks Hotel, the country's highest apartment building, on October 3.

Mexican Ambassador Leonora Rueda said: "He and his wife have more than 100 family members to whom he has to explain the sad situation."

Mr Quiroz was in Wairarapa working on an engineering project when the deaths occurred. He has told supporters in New Zealand he did not know what could have triggered the deaths.

He said his wife was not emotional or upset before she died. However, police believe a woman seen crying and upset in the building's foyer before the fall was Ms Labastida.

About half an hour before the deaths, a couple saw a woman in the hotel lobby in a highly distressed state yelling into a cellphone with a baby wrapped in a blanket.

"For the husband, even the possibility of an accident is conceivable, given the low level of the barrier at the apartment and the strong wind felt by those approaching the balcony," Ms Rueda said.

Mr Quiroz initially delayed his return to Mexico while the police investigation was under way. Police have said they are not seeking anyone in connection with the deaths.

Mr Quiroz intended to return to New Zealand to complete his work and was grateful for the support he received here, particularly from Victim Support, who stayed with him day and night after the deaths.

Auckland city police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said the case had been referred to the coroner.

- NZ Herald

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