NZSki: Judge reserves decision

JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 17:20 04/12/2013

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The woman injured in a fall from a Coronet Peak chairlift may need her leg amputated below the knee, Queenstown District Court was told today.

NZSki appeared before Judge David Holderness for sentence after pleading guilty to a serious health and safety charge following the incident last year when a couple, who were foot passengers, fell at the upper Coronet Express lift station.

After submissions by NZSki lawyer Glenn Jones and ministry lawyer Jamie Eng, Judge Holderness reserved his findings and said a written judgment was likely before Christmas.

Mr Eng read full victim impact statements to the court. Victims' names were suppressed but the female said her injuries were horrific and her leg was shattered. 

She required multiple casts, 45 stitches and the accident left her very unwell.

Surgeons told her she may need a below-the-knee amputation.

Mr Eng also added that the couple's statements said they were told to lift the bar and jump from the chairlift but the operator, Tara Wade, had submitted she would never tell people to jump.

''My injuries are so difficult to cope with. I will never gain full use of my leg. Every day is a challenge. The accident has caused devastating major life changes for us.

''Life is so sad, our future plans are now shattered,'' the impact statement said.

Her partner suffered profoundly, including an aggravated shoulder injury and the aftermath of living with someone suffering from significant injuries.

NZSki had an effective health and safety management system and the predicament was caused by the operator's failure to slow or stop the lift.

Regarding a perceived lack of concern, there was an investigation by the ministry and dialogue between the victims and NZSki could be misinterpreted.

The accident was caused by a single lapse of judgment, a one-off instance of human error by a junior employee, Mr Jones said.

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