Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Man who fell to death was last surviving member of his immediate family

Daryl Richard Kitto was under the care of community mental health service Emerge Aotearoa when he slipped and plunged down 40m down a cliff at Rakaia Gorge. Photo / Supplied
Daryl Richard Kitto was under the care of community mental health service Emerge Aotearoa when he slipped and plunged down 40m down a cliff at Rakaia Gorge. Photo / Supplied

Tourists and travellers stopping for selfies and scenic photos have been urged by police to take caution and "be aware of their surroundings" after an intellectually disabled man died having his photo taken at a Canterbury beauty spot.

Daryl Richard Kitto, 47, was under the care of community mental health service Emerge Aotearoa when he slipped and plunged 40m down a cliff at Rakaia Gorge on Sunday afternoon.

He'd had a first picture taken and had then repositioned himself for another photo when he lost his footing.

It is understood the woman taking the photos was one of his carers.

"He's gone to step down a two-foot embankment on to about a 10-foot flat grass section and he's obviously tripped or lost his balance and fallen over the edge down a steep grass and bush slope which leads to the river to his death," said Senior Constable Andy Grant of Darfield police.

Today, a police photographer is at the scene capturing images which will form part of a coronial investigation. Photo / Supplied
Today, a police photographer is at the scene capturing images which will form part of a coronial investigation. Photo / Supplied

Today, a police photographer is at the scene capturing images which will form part of a coronial investigation.

Mr Grant said police are still in the process of interviewing "witnesses and people who were there at the time".

He wouldn't comment on the likelihood of any charges emerging from the incident.

However, he warned people to take extra care when taking scenic photographs.

"People need to be aware of their surroundings," Mr Grant said.

"They need to make sure they are well back from ledges or any steep areas, for obvious reasons."

On Friday, US tourist Richard Philip Hyde, 73, died after being struck by a reversing tour bus while taking photos at the carpark of Mt Nicholas Station, near Queenstown.

Members of Mr Kitto's group are said to be traumatised by the incident and are receiving help from Victim Support.

Mr Kitto's closest surviving family member, aunt Noeline Devlin, said she believed her nephew had always been "a happy guy".

"He knew exactly what was going on around him," she said.

"I don't know what his condition was because it wasn't that he couldn't have a conversation with you or anything like that. He was quite capable of that.

"I think he was always excited when he came down to Dunedin and saw people from his past."

The last time she had seen her nephew was at his father, Richard Kitto's funeral last year.

"He did become close to his father, and his carer and him used to come down and visit him. They were sort of getting back together and I know Darryl had wanted to come back to Dunedin.

"We had a talk [at the funeral] and I talked to his carer and everything and that was the last time I heard from him. [We talked] about family and just things in general."

Ms Devlin said Richard's passing had been tough on Mr Kitto.

Mr Kitto had been the last surviving member of his immediate family. His mother, Cheryl, had died of cancer in 2008 and his brother, Gavin, of a heart attack in 2003.

"That is the whole family gone."

Ms Devlin said she believed Mr Kitto had worked in a supermarket bringing in trolleys in Christchurch.

"He was under IHC New Zealand -- provider of services to people with intellectual disabilities -- and he had carers who were looking after him."

In a statement Emerge Aotearoa chief executive Barbara Disley told media the incident was being investigated and it was inappropriate to comment further.

"At this stage our focus is on supporting the people who were close to him and the people who were with him at the time."

- NZ Herald

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