Two men have been convicted and ordered to pay fines and reparations totalling $7300 each for their part in a boating collision that saw several people injured and one person dragged underneath a jet boat at Lake Hood, near Ashburton, Canterbury, in November 2019.
Maritime NZ’s Southern Compliance Manager Domonic Venz says the case sends a strong message that there must always be a spotter or lookout on board when towing anyone at speeds over five knots.
“It was extremely lucky that no-one was more seriously injured or even killed. Both boats were travelling at speed and the injuries could have been much worse.”
One of the defendants, Rory Alexander Middleton Fisher, 21, was driving the boat at 20-25 knots (37-46km/h) and had limited boating experience. Jackson Liam Harraway, 21, owned the jet boat and was water skiing behind. Mr Fisher frequently turned around to communicate with Mr Harraway instead of looking where he was driving, as there was no spotter on board.
Mr Fisher did a U-turn on the lake at speed and collided with a biscuit three women were riding on, which was being pulled by another boat. One woman was knocked off the biscuit and pushed under the boat. She suffered injuries to her head, jaw and elbow and lacerations to her legs. Another woman was concussed.
The two defendants both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary danger or risk to another person under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
“This was a high-risk situation,” says Venz.
“The lack of a spotter on board meant that the driver had to look behind him and so there were extended periods when he was not looking where he was going.
“We want people to have fun on the water but in a safe way. Driving a boat at speed, with limited experience and with no one on board to keep a look out, is extremely dangerous,” says Venz.
“Maritime Rule 91.8 is clear. No one operating a boat is allowed to go faster than 5 knots and tow someone without having an adult on board to keep a look out.”
- Rory Alexander Middleton Fisher and Jackson Liam Harraway were sentenced on Thursday, April 8 at the Christchurch District Court.
- Rory Alexander Middleton Fisher was fined under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, sections 65(1)(a) and (3)(a) for operating a ship, namely a Hamilton jet boat, in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to any other person or property, by towing a person from a vessel in circumstances contrary to Maritime Rule 91.8(1).
- Jackson Liam Harraway was fined under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, sections 65(2)(a) and (3)(a) for causing or permitting the operation of a ship, namely a Hamilton jet boat, in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to any other person or property, by allowing his ship to be used in breach of Maritime Rule 91.8(1); and causing himself to be towed by a vessel in a circumstances contrary to Maritime Rule 91.8(2).