The inquest into the death of British tourist, Emily Jordan, has at last opened. But not in New Zealand, the country where she was killed whilst river boarding, but in Great Britain.
At the time of her death some adventure tourism activities in New Zealand were operating in a “regulatory vacuum.”
Emily Jordan drowned whilst participating in a commercially organised river boarding adventure on the Kawarau River in New Zealand on 29 April 2008. Following her death her father, Chris Jordan, launched a campaign calling for New Zealand’s “third world safety regulation” to be improved.
In response the the government announced a ‘review’ of the industry. After some delays the results of the review were published in August 2010, revealing that there were gaps in safety procedures within the industry and making recommendations for the auditing and registration (but not licensing) of adventure tourism operators.
The inquest started three years after her death, due to court proceedings to fine the extreme sports company about £30,000 and the industry review. Mr Jordan called the trial’s outcome and fine “an insult to my daughter and us as a family“. More here
An inquest into the circumstances surrounding her death has never been held in New Zealand.
Proceedings opened with evidence from Emily’s partner, Jonathan Armour
Emily Jordan’s boyfriend describes her New Zealand river death
“The boyfriend of a backpacker who drowned while river boarding in New Zealand in 2008 has described events leading to her death at an inquest.
Emily Jordan, who was 21, and from Trimpley, in Worcestershire, drowned when she became wedged under a rock.
Jonathan Armour, who was also river boarding said his girlfriend was struggling to stay on the board despite being a strong swimmer.
It took 20 minutes to release her as no rope was available, the inquest heard.
The river boarding party had been told to steer to the right of a rock, but Miss Jordan was drifting to the left and at one point Mr Armour said he could only see her arm sticking out of the water.
‘Health and safety breaches’
The Swansea university graduate died in the Kawarau River near Queenstown.
She was was travelling with Mr Armour in New Zealand when the pair signed up for the Mad Dog River Boarding activity.
The company failed to carry any ropes and has previously admitted two health and safety charges.
It was fined NZ$66,000 (£27,600) and ordered to pay £33,500 to Miss Jordan’s family in compensation.
The inquest was told on Monday that from October, New Zealand authorities would order all river boarding companies to be registered.
The news comes after an Adventure tourism safety review carried out in the country last year, recommended that all firms register for external safety audits and said industry-wide safety practices should be developed.
The inquest in Smethwick in the West Midlands continues.” source
Mad Dog River boarding is now called The River Boarding Co.
Whilst the report is correct in that from October all companies need to registered and audited but there will be a 3 year grace period before that becomes fully enforced.
For more about the Adventure Tourism review’s finding read our extensive Adventure tourism and safety in New Zealand facts and stats page, which includes the following information
- “Labour minister Kate Wilkinson said it was “scary” that just about anyone could set up an adventure tourism business.” quote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
- A wide ranging review of adventure tourism in New Zealand found gaps in safety, following which recommendations were made to introduce a registration scheme (not licensing) and mandatory auditing
- British doctor Tom Donaldson died whilst participating in an organised sand boarding activity in Omapere -Opononi in Northland. At his inquest in November 2010 the coroner said “Visitors wanting to experience New Zealand’s adventure tourism should be warned that they are taking a risk.” and that adventure tourism businesses should warn those keen to experience the thrills about the dangers via their websites.
- 448 adventure tourism workplace accidents that resulted in serious harm… were reported directly to DOL during the five-year period 1 July 2004-30 June 2009. Not all workplace accidents in the sector are being reported to DOL, possibly because they are viewed as recreation rather than workplace accidents.
- “Many injuries go unreported, so the figures of injuries included in the report are unrealistically low. I’ve studied adventure tourism injuries for the past decade and many injuries to overseas visitors are never reported to official bodies.” said Professor Tim Bentley, director of Massey University’s School of Management’s Healthy Work Group. August 2010.
Our thoughts are with Emily’s friends and family through the difficult days that lie ahead.