Parents say paddle boarder’s death blow for basketball.

An up-and-coming sports star who drowned in a tragic paddle boarding accident in Coromandel has been remembered by her family as a "vibrant and energetic" girl.

Amie Louise Russell, 15, drowned after she fell from her board in the Whangamata Harbour and was sucked beneath a moored yacht on Wednesday afternoon.

The Morrinsville teenager was on holiday with her family and her best friend in the popular beach town before the accident.

Her parents, Darrell and Catherine Russell, said her death would leave a hole in the lives of their family, her school and sporting community.


At 15, Amie was an accomplished basketball player. Last year, she represented New Zealand in the under-16 girls team and played for the Waikato region in four different teams.

The St Peter's Cambridge student also played in the school's premier girls basketball team from 2012-2014.

"Amie was highly regarded amongst the provincial, secondary schools and wider basketball fraternity," her parents said.

"Her passing will be a huge loss for women's basketball in this country."

The Russells described their daughter as "vibrant and energetic, fun-loving, courageous and determined".

"Her teachers speak of a diligent, capable academic who excelled in and out of the classroom ... She supported and encouraged others around her."

One of her two younger brothers was with her when the accident happened, Whangamata harbourmaster Steve Wise said.

Thames Coromandel area response manager Senior Sergeant Graham Shields said Amie and another person had been paddle boarding when they were caught in a strong current about 2pm on Wednesday.


"Combined with strong winds this current forced the board under a moored yacht."

Mr Shields said while the other person was able to jump clear of the yacht, Amie was submerged under the water for several minutes.

"People at the scene pulled her from the water and commenced CPR, which was continued on shore by arriving medical and ambulance staff."

Mr Wise said emergency services were able to resuscitate Amie, but she died en route to hospital.

Amie had been wearing a belt pouch with a life jacket.

"I have never heard of anything like this before. It's an absolute tragedy."

Police and the council would investigate the death to see whether there were any lessons to be learned.