Easy Rider loading cited for instability

Last updated 10:06 30/01/2014

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Gloria Davis, in the Easy Rider hearing, today acknowledged all of the loved one's that have passed away.

As the defence opened its case today, Davis said the Easy Rider was operating completely within the law, no rules were broken and no offence committed.

She is calling three defence witnesses, Meri Leask, of Bluff, Maritime Management Ltd managing director Margaret Wind and naval architect and professional engineer Harry Stronach.

Davis, herself, is not giving evidence.

The Easy Rider capsized on March 15, 2012, claiming eight lives. Easy Rider owner Gloria Davis has pleaded not guilty to five charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the Maritime Transport Act. AZ1 Enterprises Ltd also faces five charges.

Yesterday, the Invecargill District Court was told the Easy Rider could have withstood the wave that capsized it if the boat had been loaded properly.

Witness Michael Pearson, a maritime expert, said he believed the loads of cargo on the back deck of the vessel had had an impact on the boat's stability. When asked whether there was an expectation that the Easy Rider, properly loaded and properly equipped, would have been able to withstand a large wave, Mr Pearson agreed there was.

Foveaux Strait was known to get larger-than-usual waves, and it would be normal for a seafarer to expect these when in the area, he said.

The term "rogue wave", used to describe the wave that capsized the Easy Rider, was "pretty emotive" and, although evidence suggested this wave was larger than normal, "that's what a seafarer would have expected", Mr Pearson said.

Ms Davis was aware of how the Easy Rider was loaded, having been on the wharf shortly before the vessel departed, he said. Other actions, including permitting the boat to head out into adverse weather along the windward side of Stewart Island, without a certified skipper on board, meant the risk of operating the vessel had not been reduced to as low as reasonably practicable.

The defended hearing, before Judge John Strettell, is expected to continue today.

THE CHARGES

The charges Gloria Davis faces: That being a director of AZ1 Enterprises Ltd, she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the employer company to ensure no action or inaction of any employee while at work harmed any other person on the Easy Rider; that as director of AZ1 Enterprises, she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the company to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work on the Easy Rider; and that as a director she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the company, as principal, to take all practicable steps to ensure that no contractor or subcontractor was harmed while doing work on the boat that he was engaged to do.

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Davis is also charged that she knew that a master holding a skipper's certificate was required before the boat could be lawfully operated, and that the certificate was not held and that she caused or permitted the boat to be run in a way that caused unnecessary danger or risk to persons aboard.

AZ1 Enterprises Ltd faces similar charges.

 

- The Southland Times

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