'Heartache': Two dead at Piha after being pulled from the water; five drownings in 24 hours

'Heartache': Two dead at Piha after being pulled from the water; five drownings in 24 hours

Updated: 9 days, 23 hours, 4 minutes, 12 seconds ago

Five people have died in water incidents in Auckland in 24 hours, while the body of a sixth person - missing since a family day at a Coromandel beach turned to tragedy on Wednesday - has been found as a horror week on the water continues.

Eleven people have now died in water-related incidents in the last nine days - 10 of them since Tuesday.

Police confirmed last night two people pulled unconscious from the water by surf lifesavers at the popular West Auckland beach Piha had died.

At least one was taken ashore by surf lifesavers who went to their aid using an IRB and jetski, Surf Life Saving NZ national duty officer Faron Turner said last night.

The rescue took place after patrols for the day had ended.

“They were taken to shore, and CPR is underway for that person.”.

Police confirmed soon after that both people had died.

Earlier in the afternoon, police confirmed a body found in the water by a member of the public at Slipper Island/Whakahau was the person missing since a large extended family group got into trouble at nearby Ōpoutere Beach on Wednesday.

Police didn’t identify the person, but the Herald has previously reported the missing man to be Samuel Cruickshank.

Cruickshank’s father, Ian Cruickshank, died when the family group got into trouble while swimming at the beach on Coromandel Peninsula north of Whangamatā.

The partner of one of Cruickshank’s daughters was also among seven people pulled from the water, after which he was flown to hospital, where he is recovering.

Holidaymakers told the Herald on Wednesday about their desperate efforts to save the family caught in “very rough” surf off the isolated beach, and the grief of those onshore.

Kathy Le Haavre and and Tony Brooks comforted a woman they understood was Ian Cruickshank’s wife.

“To lose her husband in front of her eyes and to know her son [was still missing] must be really tough … can you imagine the heartache?”, Brooks said.

Three of the latest deaths occurred between late Friday afternoon and yesterday morning in Auckland, the latest a person who police described as dying in a “water incident” at a Takapuna address late Saturday morning.

The evening before a man and woman died after they were pulled unconscious from the water by bystanders within half an hour of each other at Auckland northern suburbs’ beaches Big Manly, on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula, and Narrow Neck.

One person died following a water-related incident near Auckland's Narrow Neck Beach. January 20, 2023. Photo / Aja Lethaby

The alarm was raised at Narrow Neck Beach about 4.30pm when someone pointed to an “upside-down” woman about 10 metres away from him in the water and asked, ‘Is she all right?’, one rescuer told the Herald.

He turned her over and pulled her to shore, where an off-duty lifeguard and about 15 others tried to help the unresponsive woman before an ambulance arrived.

“[But] there was nothing we could do.”

Half an hour later, bystanders also pulled an unresponsive man from the water at Big Manly Beach, Manly resident Johnny Lind said.

“He was swimming and we saw, out of our window, his buttocks sticking up. We thought he may have been snorkelling, as a lot of people do that here.”

Emergency services tried to help the man, shielding him with sheets, Lind said.

“I could see he was totally white. His face was completely pale.”

Police later confirmed the man had died.

Lives have also been lost in the water in Otago and Coromandel in the last nine days.

An engaged man from Australia disappeared after trying to save a child in Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy on Thursday, with his body found yesterday.

In a separate but similar incident at the same spot in Otago, Wanaka man Leeroy Kaaho - also known as Linkin Kisling - died week earlier.

PublisEmergency services rushed to the mouth of the Rees River where the 48-year-old lost his life after going in to help his 10-year-old son, who survived.

On Tuesday night, a rescue helicopter found an unresponsive man after he went missing in the water at Whangamatā, the first of the week’s string of deaths - including the Cruickshank family - in Coromandel Peninsula.

Two days later a person died in a water-related incident near Coroglen, also on the peninsula.