Tragic details emerge about house party where student fell down stairs and died

An attendee of a uni house party where a teen was crushed to death has revealed revellers ignored a giant pile-up of people to carry on enjoying themselves instead.

University of Otago student Sophia Crestani, 19, died at a house party in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island on Saturday night.

She had attended the party at an iconic student residence dubbed “The Manor” when a doorway quickly became overcrowded at the front of the address.

A witness, who wished to remain unnamed, told online publication Stuff that as people began falling over “like dominoes” down a staircase, unaffected partygoers failed to help.

Pictured is Sophia Crestani and the staircase at the property with people on it. Source: Facebook/ Newshub

"The whole time people were more interested in trying to force their way into the front door where everyone was getting crushed, we were trying to pull people up and people were trying to force their way in,” the witness said.

"People were struggling and instead of helping people were way more interested in trying to party."

Ms Crestani was trapped under the pile. Two others were seriously injured.

The witness said the congregation was sparked by rumours security was coming to assess the party.

He said he tried desperately to pull people out of the pile but more and more people were falling on top.

Another partygoer said he’d been to several parties at the home before but this one was “next level”.

The property where Sophia Crestani died. Source: Google Maps

Police were called to the address five minutes before midnight (local time) on Saturday after receiving reports of a disorderly gathering and shortly after a partygoer called to request help.

“When our officers arrived there was... about 500 or 600 partygoers, a lot of them anxious, a lot of them trying to get out of the premises, a lot of them trying to get in the premises, a lot of disorganisation, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anxiety,” Otago Coastal Area commander Inspector Marty Gray told reporters on Sunday.

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne said the university was collectively grieving Ms Crestani’s death.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of a second-year student at a student party in a flat on Dundas St on Saturday night,” she said.

“The Proctor’s office is currently supporting the family of the student who died. We are also aware that many members of the student community are badly affected by what occurred or are supporting those who are.

“Our staff are working with students during this very difficult time. Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected.”

She said the university are cooperating with authorities as police investigations continue.

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