Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Raglan drowning: Keen sportsman who loved the water

A young man who died after jumping from a bridge at a popular swimming spot in Raglan was a keen sportsman who loved the water.

The 16-year-old -who police have not yet named was among a group of friends jumping from the Te Kopua Bridge into the water below yesterday when tragedy struck.

Ambulance crews worked on the teen for up to an hour but he could not be saved. Photo / Belinda Feek
Ambulance crews worked on the teen for up to an hour but he could not be saved. Photo / Belinda Feek

Another youngster jumped in and landed on top of the victim, causing him to go under.

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When he did not resurface, his friends frantically searched for him and raised the alarm about 12.20pm. He was found between 10 to 15 minutes later and although CPR was performed for some time, he was pronounced dead.

At the scene, a large crowd of friends and relatives huddled together, crying and comforting one another.

They held up a large tarpaulin as paramedics worked on their friend.

Tributes for the teenager began flowing yesterday as news of his death reached the wider community.

A relative told the Herald last night that the whanau including the teenager's parents -- were holding a family meeting and coming together to support each other.

The teen was well-known in the Raglan community and particularly Whaingaroa, where he grew up.

Police said the man was struck by another jumper. Photo / Supplied
Police said the man was struck by another jumper. Photo / Supplied

He is a former student of Raglan Area School and was known for his love of sports, including basketball, waka ama and outdoor lawn bowls.

He was also a keen swimmer and knew the waters he eventually lost his life in very well.

Friends and family have taken to Facebook to express pay tribute to the teen.

A relative wrote: "You were such a talented person on the sporting field and much more.

"I knew it had to be something serious because I knew you knew those waters more than anyone. I am grateful Tangaroa let you come home."

One teen wrote: "Bro, I know we weren't very good friends, but I know we were close enough for me to call you a brother. Haere atu ra my brother. We will miss you."

Another relative said she was "hurting hard" following the news of her young cousin's sudden death.

"You will always be in my heart, cousin ... Love you forever."

Reiki Ruawai and Jahvik Leng-Ware attended Raglan Area School with the 16-year-old.

Reiki said he was at home when he heard the news and came straight down to the jetty at the end of Bow St.

Reiki and Jahvik said the teen was one of the nicest boys they knew and was always keen for a laugh.

The pair were visibly upset when they spoke to the Herald and said they were unsure how their friend's death would affect them when they had to jump off the bridge next.

- NZ Herald

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