“A whitewater sports expert has told a Queenstown court hearing that a rescue rope could have saved the life of a young English woman who drowned while riverboarding in the Kawarau Gorge last year.
The belief that ropes and knives could become hazards themselves in white-water situations was “ill-informed and uneducated”, a white-water rafting guide and former New Zealand kayaking representative told Judge Brian Callaghan in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.
Appearing as Maritime New Zealand’s expert witness in the prosecution following the death of English tourist Emily Jordan during a Mad Dog River Boarding trip on the Kawarau River last year, Donald Calder said carrying a rope would have increased the guides’ chances of rescuing her alive…..
…..On the third day of the hearing, Mr Calder said although there were differences between white-water activities such as kayaking, rafting and river boarding, once a person was out of their vessel, they were all in the same situation.
All white-water participants should expect entrapments because they were “fairly common” and in the past 23 years, he had been involved in a number of entrapment rescues – including of himself.
Although ropes in throw bags did not guarantee a successful rescue, Mr Calder said “most” did, while “some have involved injury and some death”.
He said all white-water guides should have as much training as possible in rescue techniques, and river rescue courses were “an integral part” of New Zealand’s rafting industry.
He considered it “unhelpful” the recent version of Mad Dog’s safety plan had removed a requirement for guides to attend a swift-water rescue training course.
There was also “no excuse” for people in a white-water situation not to carry a throw bag with rope…”