A University of Otago student who died at a rowdy flat party may have been trampled by other partygoers as she attempted to leave the overcrowded house, a witness says.
Two other people were seriously injured following a panicked stampede from the party at a student flat on Dundas St, known as "The Manor", around midnight.
A student who attended the party told the Herald people fell down the flat's stairs and landed on top of the woman, who suffered fatal injuries.
"She may have been trampled," the student said.
"I went outside and saw her lying on the ground being given CPR."
The hosts had called earlier police for help to shut down the party before the woman died.
This morning, emergency tape cordoned off the property and shoes, glass alcohol bottles, cans and boxes were strewn on the street outside.
There had been reports the stairwell of the flat had collapsed during the party, however, the student told the Herald it had not.
Another student said hundreds of people were flooding into the flat before the incident and many of the partygoers were "extremely intoxicated".
When the stampede started to exit the flat, attendees were panicked trying to get out the door when the girl fell over, she said.
"She fell and people were just trampling all over her without taking much notice," the student, who asked not to be named, told the Herald.
"When I was coming down, people had started giving her CPR but she was gone pretty fast, unfortunately."
Once police officers were inside the flat, everyone got out really quickly, she said.
The street outside was flooded with people and at least eight police cars, three ambulances and two fire engines were at the scene.
She had heard rumours the party was the last blowout for "The Manor" as it had been bought by the University of Otago.
Exams were just around the corner and university year was due to end around the start of November, so it was one of the last big parties, she said.
A spokesperson for the Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) offered their sympathies to the family and those affected by the death.
"We are at this point working together with the university and relevant authorities."
University of Otago vice-chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said the student community had been badly affected by the death of the woman, who was a student.
"We are deeply saddened by what occurred last night. We are supporting the family of the student who died," she said.
"Our staff are working with them today, and will continue to do so, at this very difficult time."
The university would work with police as they continued to investigate the incident.
'Please don't let me die, I don't want to die'
Other partygoers told of being crushed and trampled while trying to flee the out-of-control student party.
One student told the Herald she was nearly crushed in the stampede to exit the flat and was fearful she would die.
"I got pushed to the ground with two other girls I remember, and we were looking at each other screaming and crying trying to get up," she said.
"I kept repeating 'please don't let me die, I don't want to die'.
"I don't know how long I was down there, but it was the most terrifying experience of my life - I thought that was how I was going to die."
Someone managed to grab her hand and help her off the ground: "I just ran out of the building screaming."
She was not injured but very shaken up, she said. The flat was so full, no one was able to move around inside.
Meanwhile, a third student who left before the stampede said he left the party because he was getting worried about how overcrowded it was.
The situation reminded him of the Hillsborough disaster when 96 people were crushed to death in the stands of an FA Cup match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.
"There was one point where I was swept over and fell down with a couple of other people," he said.
"It was pretty standard [for flats to be full], it's happened before at flat parties but this was certainly worse than I've experienced in the past."
"It was like a school of fish moving around … you didn't really have control over what was happening."
Another partygoer told the Otago Daily Times he saw St John whisk three people away from the scene in an ambulance.
Many of those at the party were panicked during the incident as partygoers tried to leave the house. It "felt like an hour" for him to get out, he said.
Hosts asked for police help to shut down party
Emergency services were called to help shut down the party at "The Manor" just before midnight by its occupants.
The well-known student flat was teeming with people and when emergency services arrived, a large number of them were trying to leave the property.
People were injured as they attempted to leave, Otago Coastal Area Commander Marty Gray said.
The Dunedin Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) had been advised of the death and Victim Support had been made available, he said.
Gray pleaded for partygoers to touch base with police.
"If you were at the party and have not spoken to police, we would ask you to please get in touch, to help us piece together what happened."
Overnight, the intersection of Dundas St, Clyde St and Lovelock Ave was blocked off by firefighters and police crew.
Hundreds of people had attended the party, and spilled out on to Dundas St after the incident. A section of the street was later cordoned off by police officers.
• Halatau Naitoko, mistakenly shot by police: Mum still wants to meet officer
• Police presence high in Huntly after gang showdown in old DEKA car park
• Police launch homicide inquiry after body found in Whanganui
• Police car stolen at gunpoint, crashed, offenders flee in Ohakune
University of Otago Campus Watch staff joined firefighters, ambulance staff and police officers at the scene.
A spokeswoman for the Southern District Health Board was not able to provide any information when asked about patients at an incident on Dundas St.
In 2016, 16 people were moderately injured and two others seriously injured when a balcony collapsed at another Dunedin student flat.
Emergency services were called to that property - on Castle St, also in the student quarter - after the incident which occurred during a concert by the band Six60.
Up to 1500 students were at the party. Police discovered the balcony had been overloaded.
Witnesses described seeing bloodied, injured people - described by police as "walking wounded" - after the incident.
No one was charged in relation to the collapse.