Shocked friends and teachers are remembering Sophia Crestani as a friendly, cheerful and lovely young university student and model.

The 19-year-old, who was tragically crushed to death in a panicked stampede from a Dunedin house party on the weekend, has left behind an identical twin sister and parents in "deep throes of grief".

The second-year mathematics and statistics student at the University of Otago had moved to Dunedin from her family home in Wellington.

She was just weeks away from her second-year exams, with final lectures due to wrap up this week.


Students at accommodation halls Knox and Salmond Colleges — where Crestani had lived last year — were in shock at her death, Knox master Dr Graham Redding said.

Sophia Crestani has been described as friendly and cheerful. Photo / Facebook
Sophia Crestani has been described as friendly and cheerful. Photo / Facebook

Crestani had earlier studied at Queen Margaret College, a Presbyterian girls' school in Wellington.

Principal Jayne-Ann Young said Crestani had "touched many lives" during her time at the college.

"She was a cheerful, positive and personable young woman.

"It was Sophia's warm and friendly nature that made her the Year 9 class prefect as well as a peer tutor to help girls navigate their way through middle school, and then later becoming a Year 13 mentor."

The teen was an "enthusiastic spirit with a creative flair", Young said.

The school's head of senior school and Miss Crestani's chaplain had both gone south to Dunedin.

Students pay tributes to Sophia Crestani. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Students pay tributes to Sophia Crestani. Photo / Jason Oxenham

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 Wearable Art event.


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

A Wellington man, who did not want to be named, said Crestani was also an "accomplished gymnast and coach" at the club his daughter attended. "She was a lovely young lady, somewhat shy, but very much loved by the students that she coached," the man said.

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

The University of Otago's vice-chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne, said Crestani came from a special family.

"I met with her parents ... they are simply remarkable people," Hayne said.

"In the midst of their own grief I admire their courage and their generosity in helping us to look out for the students who are most severely affected by this tragedy."