The partner of a tramper who died after being swept into a river in Fiordland expressed his grief yesterday at losing a loved one.
Sean Mcnabb, 26, of Sydney, posted on his Facebook page: “Today I lost a part of me. I’m very lost at this time.”
Mcnabb’s Indonesian partner Yessica Asmin was swept away on Monday while crossing the swollen Pompolona Creek, which feeds the Clinton River, on the Milford Track.
Miss Asmin was living in Sydney and studying at the University of New South Wales.
Western Southland area response manager Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley confirmed police and search and rescue staff recovered the 22-year-old’s body from the Clinton River at 4.40pm yesterday.
The body was seen from the air by the search party.
Miss Asmin was attempting to cross the Pompolona Creek with Mcnabb and German friend Sebastian Keilholz, 20, which another group of walkers had crossed without difficulty about two hours before, when she was swept away about 3pm.
Search party member Lloyd Matheson, of Southern Lakes Helicopters, said the search party was “sombre” following the discovery of Miss Asmin’s body.
“It’s a sad ending to some poor girl’s adventure overseas,” he said last night.
He was pleased the group was able to “bring closure to a horrible scenario” for the family by locating Miss Asmin.
Senior sergeant Fairley said fading light, the trampers’ inexperience and weather conditions had likely added to their difficulty crossing the stream.
“I don’t know how experienced they were to deal with the conditions, with the creek crossings that they were doing and the amount of rainfall they had,” she says.
“It’s glacier – and avalanche-fed creeks and rivers in there, so it’s only a matter of hours before things can be totally impassable.
“If you’re not confident in crossing a river like that, the best option is to just stay put or head back for shelter.
“But they’re young guys and they obviously thought they could make it. It’s just a real tragedy.”
Miss Asmin’s parents arrived in Te Anau late yesterday with a family friend, who was acting as their translator.
They are also being supported by an Indonesian embassy representative, who had travelled from Christchurch. Her parents travelled to Invercargill last night.
Mcnabb returned to Queenstown on Tuesday.
Mcnabb iss being helped by Victim Support and was “pretty shocked and fatigued”, Fairley says.
His family was on their way to New Zealand.
The trio had started the Milford Track Great Walk from Te Anau on Monday morning.
The track is closed to guided walkers from May 1 to October 27 but is open, with reduced facilities, to independent trampers.
The death will be referred to the coroner.
Otago Daily Times
– Additional reporting Fiordland Advocate/APNZ