Jet boating trip ends in tragedy

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 12:57 03/06/2014

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North Canterbury

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A man frantically tried to save his brother after he crashed his jet boat.

Leslie Stirling, 44, died from injuries sustained in a jet boat crash on the Waimakariri River in North Canterbury on April 22, 2012, a coroner has found.

He had spent the day jet boating on the river with his brother, David, before the boat got stuck in a shallow part of the river.

The brothers eventually freed the boat after several attempts as light began to fade. David pushed it from the water while Leslie manned the controls.

David watched as Leslie steered the boat out of sight in search of deeper water. He then heard a loud bang.

It took him five minutes to reach the boat. He found it upside down with Leslie's legs sticking out from under the side of it.

It took David five minutes to free Leslie, who was unresponsive.

After 20 minutes of CPR, he went to their van to use his cellphone to call for help.

The journey took 30 minutes and he had to smash a window to get into the van as Leslie had the keys.

Leslie could not be saved.

Maritime safety inspector Jeffrey Horne told the coroners' inquest he calculated the boat was travelling about 25 to 35kmh when it made a left hand turn, hitting the river bed and rolling.

David Stirling said if he could go back in time, he would have attempted to secure the boat for the night and return the following day to retrieve it during daylight.

Coroner Sue Johnson commented on the lack of communication devices on the boat but said it would not have changed things for Leslie as his injuries were severe and fatal.

Leslie's death was a tragedy and he died doing something he loved, Johnson said.

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