A photo of four girls stranded on a rock in New Zealand’s Waikato River shows the chilling moment before one of the girls was swept to her death.
Rachael Louise De Jong, 21, and her friends were reportedly seen taking selfies on the rock when a five minute warning siren for the floodgates sounded, reports The Sun.
Three of the girls made it to safety on a larger rock with the help of a man who pulled them up, however Ms De Jong did not make it. Her body was later recovered by police in one of the rockpools of the river.
German tourists Katrin Taylor and Kevin Kiau watched the horror moment unfold from a viewing platform.
“They were holding selfie sticks,” Katrin told stuff.co.nz. “We could see the water was rising further and that they were in danger of getting washed away.”
“We saw the first girl made it. The guy pulled her in. The second girl jumped and made it safe as well,” Ms Taylor said. “The third girl, she jumped but the water was washing her away so the guy grabbed her.”
Ms De Jong’s brother has penned a moving tribute to his “perfect” sister on Facebook.
“Yesterday I lost one of the most important people in my life, my wonderful sister,” he wrote. “Not only was she an inspiration to us all, she was my best friend, and the most perfect sister I could ever have asked for.
“I can’t even begin to describe how much I’m going to miss you, and how incredibly unfair it is that you have been taken far, far too soon,” he wrote. “You never spoke a bad word of anyone, and you had such an infectious smile that could cheer anyone up.
“There’s not enough words in the world I could use to describe you. I love you so much Rachael, rest easy.”
The floodgates Aratiatia Dam are opened several times a day, with a five-minute warning and ‘no swimming’ signs altering people to the danger, reports the NZ Herald.
"Our sincere thoughts go out to the family and friends of the person who has passed and to those who are recovering at the local hospital and who will be traumatised," said Mercury Energy chief executive Fraser Whineray.
The company has confirmed the siren was definitely working when the accident occurred, but say they will be reviewing safety procedures.
"We've been running these spills for years, in fact they are a condition of our consent because it is part of the tourism environment there," Whineray continued.
"But this is a very concerning event and we will be reviewing all of the many measures we've put in place to try and see what else we can do to see if we can reduce risk as much as we can to try and prevent something like this from happening again."