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Coroner Says Youth Died A Hero

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, March 6 NZPA - A coroner has hailed as a hero a Christchurch teenager who died saving his younger brother from drowning in the Waimakariri River.

Lale Sioa Taiulu, 16, drowned on January 9 last year "after performing the heroic act of saving his brother's life", Coroner Sue Johnson found.

Yesterday the brother he saved, Maifea, now 13, told the Press that the pair were part of a group playing with a rugby ball in the water.

"He was with us in the current. We were playing rugby and then we got caught up all together," Maifea said.

"He kept pulling me up and he was drowning too. We went deep.

"He kept pulling me up and he got me to the pole, so I held on tight to the pole and when I looked back, he was gone. I didn't see him go."

Larry Pau, a 26-year-old labourer, drowned in the same incident.

The coroner said in her report that seven people, including Pau and Sioa, entered the water to swim and throw a rugby ball, but got into difficulty.

Sioa, a promising rugby player, managed to make it to the calmer part of the river before he jumped back in to save Maifea.

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