Cascade Falls deaths Waitakere Ranges
Yesterday afternoon, February 3rd, a group of five teenage boys were swimming at the Cascade Falls area in the Waitakere ranges, when at around 4:15pm heavy rains hit.
This caused flash flooding in the area, and water levels to rise.
Inspector Fata Willi Fanene, Duty Inspector for Waitakere commented
The young men, all 17 year olds from Auckland, tried to get onto some rocks on one side of the stream, however, the water continued to rise and became very rough.
The group then tried to cross to the other side where their vehicle was parked.
Two of the teenagers made it onto the riverbank after getting into difficulty in the water, but three others in the group were swept away.
Meanwhile, one of the teenagers who had got themselves to safety ran to the nearby golf course to call for help.
He had mild hypothermia and was transported to Waitakere Hospital for treatment.
Police received the call for assistance at 5:15pm, and emergency services, including the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, immediately responded.
A search and rescue operation was soon launched.
One of the trio managed to grab onto a tree on the bank of the stream, and was eventually winched to safety by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter about 7:15pm.
He was taken by helicopter to Waitakere Hospital in a moderate condition.
At about 6:40pm the body of 17-year-old Sosi Turagaiviu, of Massey, was located by a member of the public in the water under a bridge on Bethells Road, near Te Henga Road.
Then, at about 7:50pm, the body of Mitch Wooley, a 17 year old from Waitakere, was located by search and rescue teams in the Cascade Falls area near where they were swimming.
We have been talking to the families of the victims of this tragic incident, and we are ensuring they are supported through what is an incredibly trying time.
We are also making sure the three other young men who were caught up in this event are looked after, as this has been a very traumatic experience for them and their families.
An incident like this is an awful reminder of the power and unpredictability of our natural environment.
The deaths have been referred to the Coroner.