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Scrum machine tragedy: Death of 4-year-old a 'devastating gut-punch'

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Friday, 14 December 2018, 6:36AM
The scrum machine incident occurred at Manurewa Rugby Club.
The scrum machine incident occurred at Manurewa Rugby Club.

A pre-schooler has died following an incident involving a scrum machine at Manurewa Rugby Club in South Auckland tonight.

Police report a 4-year-old girl died and emergency services were called to the incident at 6.35pm.

Manurewa-Papakura Ward Councillor Daniel Newman said the incident was a "devastating gut-punch".

"As the Auckland Councillor for this community and as someone who has spent years supporting the roll-out of sport and recreation at Mountfort Park, tonight's incident is a devastating gut-punch," he said.

"The tragic death of a young girl in a rugby scrum machine accident at Mountfort Park has shocked the rugby community in Manurewa, and will trigger an outpouring of grief and support for her family.

"I have spoken at length with the leadership at the Manurewa Rugby Football Club and know Mountfort Park well. We are all devastated at what has occurred. Club members are cooperating with the Police to assist their inquiry."

Police said they are not treating the death as suspicious and it will be referred to the Coroner.

Victim Support is assisting the family of the deceased, who were present at the time of the incident.

Police extended their "heartfelt condolences" to the family during this time.

Newman said the specific details around the incident are not known, however, he understands the park was being used as part of a touch module.

"A touch module is run at Mountfort Park as part of a programme to encourage active sport; I understand the park was being used for that purpose at the time the accident took place," he said.

Manurewa Rugby Club president Kere Maihi declined to speak to the Herald tonight, he is also the president for Counties Manukau Community Rugby.

In 2009, former All Black hooker Keven Mealamu's niece died after she was crushed by a scrum machine.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday following the incident, Mealamu revealed the cushioned pads of the scrum machine had been removed from the steel-framed machine and it had been tipped up on an angle.

"I think some of the young teenage boys might have left the sports equipment standing up, which it shouldn't have been," he said at the time.

"I think she might have fallen under it, but there might have been some kids playing on the other side of it and maybe pushed it down."

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