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UB senior dies as kayak capsizes in New Zealand

A University at Buffalo senior studying abroad died Friday in New Zealand when his kayak capsized in rough waters at a lakeside resort.

Daniel T. Hollnsteiner, 21, of Staten Island was with a group of 10 students on Lake Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island when strong winds tipped their kayaks and sent them into icy water, police in New Zealand reported.

James. R. Murphy, 20, a student from London also died, police reported.

Helicopters rescued the other students – men and women also in their early 20s. Some managed to make their way to a nearby island.

Hollnsteiner was on track to graduate from UB in May 2016 with a degree in business administration, a résumé posted online stated. He achieved the dean’s list for spring 2014. Hollnsteiner was a member in the university’s Financial Management Association.

UB spokesman John DellaContrada said the university had been in contact with the Hollnsteiner family. “We are offering whatever support and assistance we can during this very difficult time,” DellaContrada said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Daniel’s family and friends. University counseling services will be available for Daniel’s friends and fellow students at UB.”

Authorities in New Zealand investigating the accident described the lake as “extremely dangerous” with variable conditions that can deteriorate rapidly. Such was the case Friday afternoon when the 11 students who were touring the country in camper vans met at Lake Tekapo to kayak, newspapers in New Zealand, Britain and Australia reported.

After a sustained wind gust whipped up the waves and capsized the kayaks, many of the kayakers were in the water for more than one hour, police said.

All 11 students were wearing life jackets, police reported. But the temperature of the water was estimated at just below 40 degrees at the time of the accident. Lake Tekapo is fed from glaciers in the Southern Alps, the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute said on its website.

Nine survivors were treated for hypothermia, it was reported. At least two were hospitalized overnight.

Hollnsteiner’s semester of study at Monash in Melbourne ran from July through November. A post on the university’s Facebook page said:

“Our university community is deeply saddened by the news of the tragic deaths of two of our students, Daniel Thomas Hollnsteiner and James Robert Murphy, in a kayaking accident on the South Island of New Zealand. Monash has sent a senior member of our management team to New Zealand to support other students there at this difficult time. Our deepest sympathies are extended to the families of the students, their colleagues and their friends during this tragic time. Our thoughts are also with the remaining students.”

Lake Tekapo is in the Mackenzie District about 150 miles southwest of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city. The area is known for adventure sports including mountain biking, windsurfing, heli-skiing and climbing.

email jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com