Inquest probes boy's death in thermal hot pool

By Cherie Taylor of The Daily Post -
Toromon Toromon, 10, and his family were enjoying a family outing at Kuirau Park just shortly before he fell into this hot pool fatally burning himself. Photo / Supplied
Toromon Toromon, 10, and his family were enjoying a family outing at Kuirau Park just shortly before he fell into this hot pool fatally burning himself. Photo / Supplied

A 10-year-old boy was seen playing on a rock wall moments before slipping into a thermal pool and suffering fatal burns, a coroner's inquest has heard.

The local council says other visitors to a Rotorua thermal park are climbing fences and ignoring warning signs to get a closer look at the natural features, putting themselves in danger.

Rotorua District Council parks and recreation manager Garry Page gave evidence today at the inquest into the death of Toromon Toromon who fell into a pool at the park on Boxing Day 2010 suffering full thickness burns to 95 per cent of his body.

The Hamilton boy died at Middlemore Hospital the next day from his injuries.

In evidence before coroner Dr Wallace Bain, Mr Page said the pool Toromon fell into had a stone wall around it but many other pools around the park had wooden child-proof fences to stop people falling in.

There were some signs around the park warning visitors to stay on tracks and be aware of the dangers.

Since Toromon's death, they had reviewed the area, placed pictorial and internationally recognised signage around the park and wooden fencing around the pool in question, he said.

The court heard that visitors to the park were ignoring signage and fences and climbing them, putting themselves in danger to get a closer look at the natural features.

There was difficulty "balancing" safety and allowing people to see the natural features Rotorua had to offer, Mr Page said.

"We are constantly monitoring things. Our people do everything but if people are determined to climb the barriers there is little to stop them ... there is a fine balance. We have to enable people to see and experience it in its natural form."

If fences were too high and someone did manage to climb and fall in, people wouldn't be able to reach them quickly, he said.

"It's not easy to climb out."

The sheer volume of natural features and pools throughout the region made it impossible to fence them all, Mr Page said.

The council had fenced off a pool at Whakarewarewa but locals soon broke it down and a child subsequently slipped in and got seriously burned, he told the court.

"They will find a way in if they really want to."

On the day Toromon suffered his fatal injuries, his family had been out enjoying their Christmas in Rotorua, Rotorua police Detective Sergeant Tony Colby told the court.

After checking out most of the park, the family had lunch before deciding to see more.

As they heading into the park, Toromon and his elder brother Totira ran off ahead to play.

A few minutes later, Toromon was walking on the rock wall around the pool and fell in.

His 11-year-old brother pulled him out and put him on the grass before going for help.

Photographs provided to police show Toromon and his brother climbing on the wall around the pool earlier in the day.

In evidence, Mr Colby said a witness heard Totira say to his brother, "I told you not to jump in there".

He said at the time of the incident, there were warning signs around the park but some had been vandalised.

Fencing ranged from child proof down to minimal or no fencing.

An investigation determined there was insufficient evidence to establish criminal liability against any person or the Rotorua District Council regarding the boy's "unfortunate" death.

Dr Bain reserved his finding telling the boy's family who were in court it had been a "lovely family day out until this occurred".

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