Catherine Peters’ Swing Bridge Death – Manslaughter Trial Starts

On the day that the trial of Mad Dog river boarding was so very neatly wrapped up another trial started into the circumstances surrounding another adventure tourism related death in New Zealand.

Catherine Peters, an 18 year old student in her first year of a veterinary degree at Massey University died in March from injuries sustained when she fell 20 metres from the Ballance Bridge in the Manawatu Gorge, near Woodville. She was participating in a commercially-run bridge swing exercise with Massey University’s alpine club, organised by Crag Adventures.

In March the director of Crag Adventures, Alistair McWhannell 47, from Palmerston North was charged with manslaughter.

Today at Palmerston North District Court a depositions hearing was told “she did not jump from the bridge, but was thrown by request, and the man charged with causing her death through carelessness was one of those who threw her.” (source 3News) The Crown said that Mr McWhannell “had overseen 80 jumps from the bridge (and) failed to take proper care with Ms Peters’ second jump” (Source Radio New Zealand)

According to a report on the news site the court was also told that bridge swing was dangerous in that “the rope was allegedly too long and not tied off properly.”

The hearing is expected to run for the next 4 days.