Coroner calls for warning sign at falls

The Otago-Southland coroner has called on the Department of Conservation to consider placing a warning sign at the top of Bowen Falls following the death of an 18-year-old Chilean man.

Martin Ambrosio Celery-Halabi, a boat tour host, fell about 160m to his death after slipping on rocks at Bowen Falls in Milford Sound on August 17 last year.

Coroner David Crerar says, in his formal written findings, Celery-Halabi was climbing a route to the top of Bowen Falls with friends when he sat on a rock to eat and take photographs.

The rock he chose to sit on was "extremely slippery", Crerar says.

As Celery-Halabi got up he slid along the rock and fell over the edge of the falls, he says.

"The main cause of the slip and fall by Martin Halabi was obviously his placing himself in a position of extreme danger."

The track, while not the cause of death, was unofficial, not signposted and not maintained. It was not a track established or supervised by DOC.

It was preferable not to draw the attention of potential casual users to the existence of the route by signposting but he would forward a copy of his findings to DOC , Crerar says.

He would ask that consideration be given to the placement, in the clearing at the top of Bowen Falls, of a sign warning of the dangers created by the slipping rock.

The Southland Times