Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Five-year-old autistic boy who died at Piha beach named as Savva Lopoukhine

Police have named the five-year-old boy who died at Auckland's Piha Beach on saturday as Savva Lopoukhine. Photo / NZ Police
Police have named the five-year-old boy who died at Auckland's Piha Beach on saturday as Savva Lopoukhine. Photo / NZ Police

The five-year-old autistic boy who died in a "tragic accident" at Piha beach was Savva Lopukhine of West Auckland.

The little boy became lost on a family day at the beach on October 22, sparking a full scale search effort with involvement from lifeguards, police and the local community.

Unfortunately Savva was found deceased at the north end of the beach not long after.

Police said he did not drown and his death was the result of a tragic accident.

It is understood he slipped down a bank on the winding track and died in the fall.

Savva's father, Evgueni Lopoukhine said while his precious son couldn't verbally communicate, the family knew when he was happy.

"When he was happy he would run, he was so fast, people would say 'your boy, he runs like a champion'," he said.

Piha was one of the family's favourite spots, and a place that young Savva loved visiting.

"He loved it there because he could run, there was open space for him to be free," Evgueni said.

"He would play with his Tonka truck in the sand or just run."

Savva's heartbroken mother recalled the moment that searchers found his body at the northern end of Piha.

The boy had slipped own the side of a steep track and died in the fall.

"I never thought it would be like that, we thought we would find him, sitting, scared," Elena Lopoukhine said.

When news of Savva's death reached the Piha community they were quick to pay tribute to the little blond boy last seen wearing a yellow raincoat and red gumboots.

The New Zealand Lost Pet Register had earlier asked the community to keep at eye out for the little boy, who was at first referred to as "Max". The organisation was one of the first to pay tribute.

"Our hearts are absolutely broken for Max and his family as the news is in that sadly his body has been found," the post said.

"We also want to give our condolences to the rescue teams and members of the public that were involved in the search and recovery of this beautiful young man. RIP sweet heart, you will never be forgotten."

Police said the death was "tragic" and said their thoughts were with Savva's family at this difficult time.

His death has been referred to the coroner.

- NZ Herald

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