A student who witnessed the death of a young woman at a Dunedin flat party described the incident as a tragedy, but says fingers shouldn't be pointed.
There are conflicting reports over the events leading up to the death of Sophia Crestani, 19, who is believed to be the student killed as party-goers tried to leave Dundas Street flat The Manor on Saturday night.
A Dundas St woman, who did not want to be named, said she was at the party from early evening, and was one of the last to leave at the end of the night.
She said the party started out fairly quiet around 7pm.
By 8.30pm more people had turned up for "the last party at The Manor'', which is going to be leased by the University of Otago next year.
At around 10.30pm, people were packed in "like sardines'' but they were having a good time, she said.
She said the party was trouble-free - "there hadn't been any scraps''.
While reports suggested up to 600 people had been at the flat, she said it was more like 200.
"There was nobody out on the street, and you couldn't get 600 people into that house.''
The stairwell was "pretty hectic'', as people were continuously going up and down, she said.
Campus Watch had been at the scene for about an hour before the incident, she said.
"It was a shame the housemates had to be the ones to shut it down,'' she said.
The flat's tenants called police to help shut down the party, and people started trying to leave when police arrived, the woman said.
"People started falling down the stairs onto one another, that's when the panic set in, people thinking 'I don't want to be the one on the floor'.
"I don't think a lot of people realised what happened.''
The woman said she saw Crestani fall on the stairs.
"It was awful. It was so totally packed, once you're under, you're under.''
She said her friends waited in a corner until they were able to get out. It took between 20-30 minutes for everyone to get out of the flat, she said.
One of the woman's friends was a close friend of Crestani.
"She was distraught on the floor.''
The woman hoped fingers would not be pointed over the tragedy.
"Every party in North Dunedin is always packed.
"It's a terrible thing that happened, but every party has injuries, this was just on a new scale.
"It's nobody's fault.''
Two other people were injured during the party.
She believed one of them had a broken leg, while the other may have had "spinal issues''.
The university had emailed students with information about where to get support, she said.
"The attitude of students has really shone through, they're looking after each other.''
- Otago Daily Times