Crowd mourns as bodies pulled from Christchurch lake

There were sad scenes on the edge of a Christchurch lake on Wednesday after divers found the bodies of a husband and wife who died in a tragic accident.

Avneel Ram had surprised his wife Sheetal Ram with a new car on Sunday. They were planning a driving lesson when the accident happened.

The car they were using for the driving lesson went into a suburban Haswell lake on Tuesday night and they both drowned, leaving behind a five-month-old daughter.

The deaths left Christchurch's tight knit Fijian-Indian community reeling, and it was a grim sight for family members forced to watch as the car was recovered - still fitted with its L plates.

Water pouring from a smashed front windscreen as it was pulled from the lake - a clue to the terror the driver faced.

An eyewitness says a woman was behind the wheel when the car crashed into the lake and that Mr Ram ran in to save her. However he was not a strong swimmer and disappeared.

"That makes him a hero for us. We're actually grieving here, but we're feeling good him for as well," says a grieving family member.

Last night emergency crews tried in vain to dive to the bottom and find the missing couple but it was too deep and they couldn't find them.

Today family and friends watched from the shore as police divers went in - and their worst fears were confirmed.

The grief was raw as they identify the bodies and formed a guard of honour as they were lifted out of the lake, the couple's baby now an orphan in the crowd.

Police are continuing their investigations into what happened, and the family say it was an accident.

Now, Christchurch's tight knit Fijian-Indian community is rallying as they try to come to terms with what happened at the lake and the loss of a loving husband and wife.