Coroner rules death of Fijian couple who drowned in Christchurch lake an accident

A coroner has ruled the death of a Fijian man and his wife who drowned in a Christchurch lake was an accident. 

Sheetal Ram was learning drive at Westlake Reserve on September 12 last year when she accelerated over the kerb and into the lake.

Her husband Avneel Ram ran into the water to help save her life but lost his own in the process.

The couple left behind their six-month-old daughter.

In his findings Coroner David Robinson ruled they both drowned and made no recommendations into their death but commended those who attempted to rescue the pair.

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

Witnesses described the incident as the car accelerating down the slope and entering the lake without braking. 

The car stopped in the lake approximately 16 metres out from the shore which is when Mr Ram, who wasn't a competent swimmer, waded out to the car in an attempt to save his wife's life.

The car stayed a float for a short while and Mr Ram was seen holding onto the back of the car while it was still afloat.

After the car sank he dived down into the water, resurfacing for air and going back down several times but eventually failed to resurface. 

Emergency services arrived around 6pm. The car was eventually found the next day.

Ms Ram was found in the back seat of the car. Mr Ram was found nearby at a depth of 3.8 metres.

The keys for the car were in Mr Ram's hand indicating he had removed the keys from the vehicle following the submersion of the car, Coroner Robinson said.