An Australian tourist, 38-year-old John Parisis, from New South Wales, has fallen and died whilst on a guided tour with Franz Josef Glacier Guides in South Island, New Zealand.
Mr Parisis’s cousin, Tina Vasilakis, said yesterday Mr Parisis had been in “good health” and was “excited to start his new life overseas” (Switzerland).
“He walked regularly and had a blood test before he left, with nothing concerning,” Ms Vasilakis told The Australian. “We are all taking it pretty hard.” source
According to one report only a nurse was flown out to the glacier to administer CPR.
The exact circumstance of his death are unclear and there are conflicting accounts – initial police accounts were that he had fallen into the crevasse whilst other report say he slipped and became unconscious. Family say he was fit and healthy. He is the third Australian visitor to die on the Franz Joseph glacier in the last 18 months.
Earlier in 2009, two brothers aged 22 and 24, also from Melbourne, were crushed to death by 1200 tonnes of ice when they jumped over safety barriers to take a closer look at the terminal face.
A 39-year-old Melbourne man was found dead on the glacier in May 2000, at least two weeks after it was believed he had fallen 40 metres into a crevasse.
Mr Parisis’ death came in the week that saw the opening evidence in the manslaughter trial concerning the death of another tourist, Catherine Peters , who died when she fell from the Ballance Bridge Swing. Alistair McWhannell of Crag Adventures,who threw her from the bridge is charged with manslaugher. It is alleged that he was distracted and neglected to check the rope before throwing her off the bridge in a Mafia style drop.
Weeks ago another Australian tourist, 39 year old Kirsty Moulder from the Blue Mountains, was seriously injured when she slipped out of a leg harness whilst bungy jumping. See Australian tourist injured in bungy accident, another has collapsed lung
A review of Adventure Tourism Safety in New Zealand was instigated following the death of British tourist Emily Jordan. Her father Chris wrote to John Key, stating that “safety regulation in New Zealand was third world“. Although the report is supposed to be complete it has yet to be released to the public.
Mr Parisis’ death is another blow to the adventure tourism industry’s increasingly shaky reputation in New Zealand.
Ninemsn reported on the death of Mr Parisis, saying:
“Police have named the Australian tourist who died while on a guided walk of New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier on Saturday.
He was 38-year-old John Parisis, from New South Wales. No other details about him were immediately available.
Police said he was walking along the bottom of a crevasse as part of a tour group when he slipped and lost consciousness about 1.30pm.
The tour operator, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, flew him to the nearby township of Franz Josef on the South Island’s west coast but attempts to revive him failed.
Police are investigating the matter on behalf of the coroner.
John Thorburn, chief executive of Ngai Tahu Tourism, which owns the glacier guide company, said the company has launched a full investigation.
Tours were suspended on Sunday but he expected them to resume on Monday.
“We are still pretty unclear as to what actually caused the gentleman’s death and I guess that will come out in the course of the investigation.”
Thorburn said staff were shocked and upset.
“We’ve spent most of our time in the last day in a half, just supporting the customers and staff on the ground in Franz Josef,” he said.”