Mother-of-two Carol Waitohi, 50, was steering a boat during a training session with the Dragons Abreast team on Currumbin Creek at Elanora when she fell into the water. Photo / Facebook
A New Zealand
woman whose body was pulled from a waterway on the Gold Coast after she fell from a dragon boat has been described as a passionate paddler who was loved by many.
Mother-of-two Carol Waitohi, 50, was steering a boat during a training session with the Dragons Abreast team on Currumbin Creek at Elanora when she fell into the water on Thursday night.
Searchers found her body nearby the following morning.
Dragon Boat Queensland marketing director Steve Marshall, who has met Ms Waitohi several times and also paddled with her husband Willis, said she would be missed by many in Australia
and back home.
“She was a lovely, kind person,” he told AAP.
“The whole family are just really kind, gentle people. She’s a very giving person, she’s very pleasant.”
Ms Waitohi had been paddling and steering – known as sweeping – for several years and was heavily involved in the Gold Coast dragon boat community.
“She’s got quite bit of responsibility and she’s well respected as a sweeper,” Mr Marshall said.
Many have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness.
“I saw story (sic) this morning on TV and could only hope it was not Carol, she was an amazing colleague and would always walk away from talking to her happier for it be it about work or life,” Mark Johnston wrote on Facebook.
Another friend, Priscilla Taumei, said Ms Waitohi’s passion for paddling rubbed off on everyone she met.
“So saddened by the news
that a beautiful, amazing lady has left this world,” she wrote on Facebook.
“I was privileged to know you and my heart breaks for your beautiful family.”
Just how Ms Waitohi fell from the boat has puzzled many, especially given she was an experienced paddler.
Mr Marshall said some of those on board told him they only realised she was missing some time after the boat started to veer to one side.
Gold Coast Water Police acting Senior Sergeant Gavin Peachey said earlier on Friday that one of the paddlers saw Ms Waitohi fall into the water, although he said investigations were continuing.
Those attending the Australian Dragon Boat Championship in Adelaide next week have been asked to wear black armbands as a mark of respect for Ms Waitohi and her family.