P alert after Lake Taupo drownings

19:18, Mar 29 2009

The Taupo coroner has warned of the dangers of methamphetamine after a father and son drowned while fishing in Lake Taupo.

The father and two sons, who were all granted permanent name suppression along with the rest of their family, travelled across the lake from Tokaanu Bay to the Tongariro River delta in a small aluminium dinghy to go fly fishing about 7.30pm on June 3 last year. As they returned after midnight, rough weather sank the dinghy and landed the three men in the freezing water.

They had left their lifejackets in their car. Only one of the sons was found alive the next morning.

Autopsies on the other two men, aged 54 and 28, found they died of drowning brought on by hypothermia and exposure. A toxicology report showed traces of cannabis and methamphetamine, or P, in their blood and urine, and methamphetamine was found in the pockets of one of the men.

In a decision issued this week, coroner Wallace Bain said the drugs had been consumed within three to four hours of their death. It could not be proved conclusively that they were a contributing factor in the drownings, but they may have affected the men's judgment.

The men's family had asked for the drug evidence to be suppressed, but Dr Bain said there was an important lesson for the public in releasing the information.

He also recommended that fishermen use neoprene waders, which kept the surviving son warm and buoyant in the lake. He said it should be compulsory for all boaties in small craft to wear lifejackets.


The Dominion Post