Jet boating community stunned by crash death

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014

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Taranaki's small jet boating fraternity is in a state of shock over the death of one of their own in a crash at the weekend.

Onaero's Dale Baker was killed instantly when his jet boat Bang-On spun out of control and crashed into a willow tree on the bank of the Ngaruroro River, 10 kilometres west of Hastings on Saturday.

His boat was one of four from the Taranaki branch of the Jet Boating New Zealand club that had been together on the river, though only three were involved in the run during which the crash occurred.

Four other people were in the boat with Mr Baker. These included his partner, Julie Williams, and Leanne Lilly of Urenui, who was seriously injured in the crash and was airlifted to Hawke's Bay Hospital. She remains in a serious but stable condition in the high dependency unit.

Secretary of the Taranaki jet boating club, Pam Frederickson, said she thought it unlikely Mrs Lilly would leave hospital in the "short term".

The crash and loss of Mr Baker had had an immediate impact on the club, which had just a small number of active members, she said. "Those that knew him certainly liked him and they will seriously miss him at events. He was very enthusiastic about the club and boating and it is such a loss - it really is.

"We were planning other trips down south and all sorts of things and he would have been there. It really is immeasurable the impact this will have."

Mr Baker had two children - a daughter aged 25 and a 16-year-old son.

A rig worker, his rural Onaero property was on the market and friends said he was looking to buy a sheep and beef farm in the Manawatu or Wairarapa.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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