5 Jul 2019

Spa pool death partly caused by alcohol, heart disease - coroner

12:25 pm on 5 July 2019

The coroner has ruled alcohol played a role in the death of a Christchurch woman in a spa pool.

Detail view of luxury beautiful hot tub for relaxing, with decoration, towels, bottle of wine in nice interior.

Photo: 123rf

Deborah Jeanne Long, 67, had hypertensive heart disease and died on 6 March at luxury spa retreat Te Wepu Intrepid Pods on Banks Peninsula.

The coroner, Anna Tutton, ruled the cause of death as functional cardiovascular collapse from alcohol intoxication and spa pool immersion.

Ms Long was at the retreat with her partner to celebrate his birthday.

She had been drinking before getting into the spa pool and continued drinking in the pool, the coroner's report stated.

Ms Long's partner heard glass smashing and turned to find her unresponsive in the pool.

He pulled her out and ran for help, and when emergency services attended, they confirmed Ms Long had died.

Ms Long's blood alcohol level was 245mg per 100ml - almost five times the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers above 20 years of age.

In a post-mortem, pathologist Martin Sage stated that collapse with sudden death or total immersion is a well recognised risk of spa pools, particularly with alcohol intoxication and underlying cardiovascular disease.

However, Dr Sage did not accept alcohol alone caused Ms Long's death.

In her findings, Ms Tutton noted that some spa pool suppliers advertise that the pools may help lower blood pressure.

"The extent to which the public is aware of the risks identified by Dr Sage, particularly in the face of advertising of the type referred to above, is unknown," she said.