The student who died during an out-of-control party near the University of Otago was 19-year-old Sophia Crestani, who grew up in Wellington.

Witnesses say Sophia - who has an identical twin sister - may have been trampled after she and others fell down stairs at the house.

It comes as University of Otago chaplain Father Mark Chamberlain said the Dundas St flat where she died, named "The Manor", was blessed this morning.

Police also confirmed they have now completed a scene examination at the house and spoken to a number of those present.


But an investigation into the incident was still ongoing as police work to build a timeline for a future coronial inquiry.

"We're still keen for anyone who was there who has information that may help police form a detailed timeline of what happened, to get in touch with us," Inspector Wil Black said.

Police climb the stairway of the student flat known as 'The Manor'. Photo / Linda Robertson
Police climb the stairway of the student flat known as 'The Manor'. Photo / Linda Robertson

The residence at which Crestani died was a renowned party house on Dundas St referred to as "the Manor", which had just been sold after being student accommodation for years.

Hundreds of students attended the party on Saturday night, in which dozens of students were crushed after a crowd was pushed and collapsed on top of each other down the staircase.

People could be seen moving around the flat at midday, and several large black rubbish bags were sitting on the front steps.

A neighbour said he believed the tenants were moving out.

Crestani had attended Wellington Presbyterian girls school Queen Margaret College, before moving to Dunedin for university.

Sophia Crestani from Wellington was killed after falling and being crushed at a Dunedin student party. Photo / via Facebook
Sophia Crestani from Wellington was killed after falling and being crushed at a Dunedin student party. Photo / via Facebook

The 19-year-old had an interest in fashion while at Queen Margaret, having had a dress she designed displayed at the National War Memorial in 2017 for the World of WearableArt event.


She went to Salmond College residential hall last year before going flatting this year.

The master Knox College, which has close links to Salmond, Dr Graham Redding commented on the "tragic" death on social media this morning.

"The student community is in shock following her death, including quite a number of current Knox residents who were at the flat at the time of the tragedy.

"Yesterday we held a time of prayer in the chapel, and we have tried to meet with every Knox student who we know to have been at the flat party to assess the level of pastoral care needed and to respond accordingly."

While back home in Wellington, outside of university classes in Dunedin, Sophia worked casually as a recreation assistant at the ASB Sports Centre.

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Queen Margaret College principal Jayne-Ann Young would not name the student but acknowledged she was a former pupil and offered her condolences and prayers to her family and friends.

"We naturally are deeply saddened to hear this terrible news about a former student," Young said.

"Our head of senior school and a chaplain from the college are heading to Dunedin to support previous students and the school is open for any past or present students if they wish to meet here."

Black said police were working closely with the University of Otago to support students and the wider community.

"Police would encourage the student community to seek welfare assistance available to them, either through the university or other organisations," he said.

Sophia also had a profile on the ICAN models, actors and extras agency.

Meanwhile, the University of Otago says it will consider wider concerns when it comes to student behaviour in the city following the death.

Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened at the party.

The university's comments came in response to questions about whether the university thought it was time to think about ways to control the size and scale of parties; whether the party should have been shut down much earlier; and whether Dunedin's tertiary institutions should take more responsibility for the high number of students going through the hospital emergency department and clogging up Fire and Emergency NZ and police resources.

University director of communications Megan McPherson said the university's priority was to support students affected by the "tragic" event.

"As you can imagine, many people are grieving today and we are supporting the student's family and friends.

"There is a police investigation under way and we are co-operating fully."

She said the questions raised by the Otago Daily Times may be addressed by the investigation.

"When the investigation is complete, we will consider wider concerns that may be raised by this event."

Otago Coastal Area commander Inspector Marty Gray told media at a press conference yesterday Campus Watch contacted police five minutes before midnight on Saturday to report disorderly behaviour.

That call was followed by one from partygoers, asking for help to halt the event.
When police arrived, the young woman, a student at the university, was carried out of the house by people at the address.

Police and others tried to revive her before St John arrived.

"When our officers arrived there was ... about 500 or 600 partygoers, a lot of them anxious, a lot of them trying to get out of the premises, a lot of them trying to get in the premises, a lot of disorganisation, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anxiety," he said.

"The victim was carried out of the house by other people and resuscitation attempts were made at that time."

Two other people at the party were injured.

Partygoers' efforts to help the woman were "fantastic" and police did not meet any resistance at the scene, Gray said.

He told media it was too early to call the death an accident, and also too early to speculate whether charges would be laid.