Coroner calls for tougher boating laws

03:10, Feb 01 2013

The Government has been hammered again for not requiring boaties to be licensed and for not having a similar range of charges for boaties as there is for drivers.

Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain has repeated the call for a complete review of maritime law following the death of Rotorua truck driver Andrew Wroe during a fun race on Lake Ohakuri on January 2 last year.

Mr Wroe was killed when his towed inflatable ski biscuit crashed into a speed boat as it was rounding a buoy.

Rotorua trucking company director Tony Sargisson, 45, and Taupo truck salesman James Worsnop, 35, were last year fined $3000 each after pleading guilty to operating a ship causing unnecessary danger.

This case showed again that maritime law needed to be reformed, the coroner said in his findings released today.

He called for jet ski and boat operators to be licensed and registered, and life jackets and helmets to be made compulsory following the death of Rotorua student Bishop Thompson, who was killed in 2011 when he fell off a jet ski and was run over by a friend on Lake Okareka, south of Rotorua.

Similar calls were made following the death of Wairarapa schoolgirl Genevieve Lewis, who died when she was run over by a boat after falling off her water skis on Lake Taupo in 2009.

''The court finds it simply incredible there is no licensing of boats or operators," Mr Bain said in his latest finding.

''It is clear that if there was some responsibility for the operation of boats taken and to more serious charges being available, then there may well be more seriousness given to Maritime Safety Law.''

''As noted in the Genevieve Lewis findings, at that time there had been over 40 fatalities and the court finds it difficult to understand why the law hasn't been review so that firmer action is taken.

''The court simply asks the question ... why recreational safety is regarded at a lower level.''

Maritime safety, registration and licensing of boaties was treated far more seriously in overseas jurisdictions, Mr Bain said.

Contact Hank Schouten
Property reporter


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