British Woman Emily Jordan’s Death: Mad Dog Riverboarding Company In Court

From Stuff:

“Mad Dog River Boarding director Brad McLeod is in Queenstown District Court today defending charges laid by Maritime New Zealand after a tourist died on one of the company’s excursions.

British woman Emily Jordan, 21, drowned after becoming trapped between two rocks while riverboarding on the Kawarau River Gorge last April.

The outing was organised by Black Sheep Adventures Ltd, which trades as Mad Dog River Boarding.

Mr McLeod and his company deny three charges each laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The hearing is expected to take five days.”

Emily’s death came just two weeks after six high school students and a teacher were drowned on a canyoning expedition with the Sir Edmund Hilary Outwardbound Centre during inclement weather. The centre was later prosecuted, pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and $440,000 in reparations. Read: ‘A year of death on the nation’s rivers

SundayMercury.net 5 May 2008:

“Graduate reveals her terror on NZ rapids which killed Emily Jordan”

A UNIVERSITY graduate last night revealed her own terrifying ordeal tackling the same New Zealand rapids which claimed the life of Midlander Emily Jordan.

Emma Hollindrake, 22, went river-boarding in the Kawarau River gorge just a week before the tragic 21 year-old Worcester student drowned.

Both girls had booked their trips with Queenstown-based Mad Dog River Boarding Company.

Emma told the Sunday Mercury last night: “It was the worst experience of my life – I was absolutely petrified.

“I felt under-confident in my ability on the board which made me worry that I would do something wrong and end up in serious bother. At one point I was almost in tears”…..

….On its website, Mad Dog River Boarding Company insists the sport is suited to people who only need “reasonable swimming ability”.

Yet the riverboard trip includes six rapids lasting 45 minutes and, according to the site, “leads participants down the mighty Kawarau River, blasting through the infamous Roaring Meg rapids.”

But Emma, a Nottingham University graduate who is now travelling the world, questioned the company’s safety procedures.

She said: “With Mad Dog there were a few elements which made me doubt that I was as safe as I possibly could be.

“The goggles did not fit, the group was too big and there were not enough guides.

“You are trying your best to stay in control and on your board, and heading down the rapids is hard enough given the space to do it. But in such a large group you often knock into people, knocking you off-course which can be pretty dangerous on a rapid.

“On our trip, there were four guides, that left them with five people each which was not enough to ensure my feeling of safety for the whole trip as it is such a demanding experience.

“Also, the guides told us that we should stay in their paths and turn our boards either right or left when told to do so.

“But as you are being dragged by the river I found that quite frequently you could be in between two different groups, and two different guides, and be too far away to hear or see the signal of when to turn your board.

“The guides were also reluctant to let us not participate.

“Me and one girl went over the first rapid together and she hated it. The guys had to come and assist her and were almost shouting at her when she told them that she did not feel comfortable to continue.

“She did get out of the water but only because she kicked up a fuss. This made me feel uncomfortable about also trying to get out as they were clearly not happy with the situation, so I continued down the river.

“But at one point I swallowed an awful lot of water and was struggling to get my breath back. I shouted to one of the guides that I wasn’t sure if I could continue and he told me there was absolutely no way of getting out.””

The UK’s Daily Mail also published information from a tourist who’d been riverboarding in NZ:

Photo Daily Mail

“Heather Findlay, 25, who went river-boarding in New Zealand last year, said it was terrifying.

‘I got sucked into one rapid called the Man Eater – I couldn’t catch my breath and thought I was going to drown.

‘I just got caught up in the undercurrent and it kept swirling me around.’

Read more about other concerns over the safety of outdoor activities in NZ: Outdoor adventure in NZ It is thought that the number of tourist adventure injuries in NZ rivals that of road injury victims (New Zealand’s road toll is twice that of the UK’s )

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