Topec awaits verdict over Paritutu tragedy

Three people died after falling into the sea during a Topec-run traverse of Paritutu rock.
Three people died after falling into the sea during a Topec-run traverse of Paritutu rock.

Charges are expected to be laid this week against the Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre in relation to three deaths in August's Paritutu tragedy.

The Taranaki Daily News understands a statement will be released tomorrow by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which had until this Friday to complete its investigation into the incident.

Spotswood College students Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Felipe Melo, both 17, and their Topec instructor Bryce Jourdain, 42, were swept out to sea on August 8 while climbing around Paritutu rock.

On the morning of August 19, the body of Brazilian exchange student Felipe Melo was found in the water intake of the Contact Energy power station near Port Taranaki.

Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Bryce Jourdain have not been found, but have been farewelled with public memorials.

Topec board of trustees chairman David Grigg said a meeting with the ministry was scheduled for Friday where the findings of the investigation would come to light.

"I know we have to answer to what happened so we will make that appearance on Friday. At this stage, we don't know what's happening.

"That's when we'll find out exactly what the whole story is, and what charges are being laid, if any."

Spotswood College principal Mark Bowden said he had not seen anything official which outlined the charges being laid.

"My understanding is that there will be a press release put out on Thursday," he said.

Mr Bowden asked to save any further comment until official documentation had been released.

Police concluded a separate investigation in December last year which resulted in no charges being laid against any of the parties involved.

At the time, Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward said there had been no evidence of criminality. Therefore, no charges had been laid.

Topec also has an independent party conducting an internal investigation which would be ongoing, Mr Grigg said.

Taranaki Daily News