A 21-year-old woman has drowned after floodgates were opened, sending water surging down the river where she was swimming with friends.
Three other swimmers made it to the shore of Waikato River, but Auckland student Rachael Louise De Jong tragically did not survive the sudden onslaught of water.
Her body was recovered from a rockpool by police on Monday night, stuff.co.nz reported.
Two German tourists, Katrin Taylor and Kevin Kiau, were on a viewing platform in the Aratiatia Dam area and could see four people standing on a submerged rock
Rachael Louise De Jong, 21, drowned after the Aratiatia Dam floodgates were opened, sending water surging down the spillway where she was swimming with friends
Two German tourists, Katrin Taylor and Kevin Kiau, were on a viewing platform in the Aratiatia Dam area and could see four people standing on a submerged rock.
They had heard five minute warning siren sound before the floodgates at the dam are opened.
As the waters began rising, the two tourists watched as the girls tried to jump to a nearby rock where a man was standing.
'We saw the first girl made it. The guy pulled her in. The second girl jumped and made it safe as well – the guy pulled her in,' Ms Taylor told stuff.co.nz.
'The third girl, she jumped but the water was washing her away so the guy grabbed her.'
Ms Taylor said the man and the third woman were washed away.
'There was still one girl left in the middle of the river. I'm not sure if she tried to jump, or the water was already too high, but she was gone pretty quick without making it to the safer rock, to the larger one,' she said.
Two women were left stranded on the rock, left to fear the fate of their friends.
Touching tributes from devastated friends and family describe a constantly smiling, bubbly woman who was loved by many
'You can live a lifetime and never meet another person that has such a profoundly positive effect in your life,' just one of the dozens of hearfelt tributes for the 21-year-old
Tragically, 21-year-old Rachael Louise De Jong did not survive the accident.
Touching tributes from friends and family describe a