31 Dec 2010

Police investigate thermal pool death

5:12 pm on 31 December 2010

Police have launched an investigation into the death of a 10-year-old boy after he fell into a geothermal hot pool in Rotorua.

They say they are keen to speak to witnesses, as those who have come forward so far only saw the aftermath of the accident at Kuirau Park on 26 December.

The severely burnt boy died on Thursday afternoon with his family by his side. Medical staff who treated the boy at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland say his injuries were not survivable.

The Pacific Island boy had been visiting the public park with his family when he fell into a thermal pool, in which waters can be as hot as 100 degrees Celsius.

Rotorua District Council's parks and recreation manager Garry Page says they now know the boy fell in one of the park's smaller pools near the hospital.

Mr Page says staff have checked the two or three pools in that area and are confident that all the security fences are intact.

Rotorua's mayor Kevin Winters says the thoughts of all residents are with the 10-year-old's family.

He says thousands of people visit the park each year, and incidents around the pools are rare.

But Mr Winters is making a plea to parents and guardians to make sure they know where their children are at all times.

Inspector Bruce Horne says all angles will be looked at during the investigation and other questions will arise when it is discovered how and why the boy fell in the pool.

Mr Horne says witnesses who saw the boy's fall, or saw him just before, are needed. He says the child's family is very upset, but is being very co-operative.

The Coroner will also investigate the death.

The Rotorua District Council says there is not much more it can do to make the area safe and warns the public to take care in the park. It has not yet spoken with the boy's family.