Excitor III and Mac Attack Companies Fined For Broken Backs

The Hole in the Rock, Bay of Islands

The Hole in the Rock. Take care on boat trips in NZ

Planning an adventure tourism holiday to New Zealand?

 We say give it a miss and find somewhere where the industry is better regulated and has a lower accident rate.

When you participate in an adventure tourism activity wouldn’t you prefer to know that the people taking your money will take all practicable steps to ensure your safety?

InterCity Group,, the company behind the Excitor III fast boat rides in Northland, has been instructed to pay a total of $270,000 to three passengers whose spines were fractured during separate rides last year:

Petulia Patey says her life has changed forever since she broke her back during a holiday jetboat trip in the Bay of Islands last year.

InterCity Group was today ordered to pay $270,000 – including $60,000 to Mrs Patey – after three women broke their backs in two separate incidents in January and March.

The company earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to take all practical steps to ensure their employees’ actions did not harm anyone.

Mrs Patey and her best friend Amanda Lee suffered compression fractures to their vertebrae when the boat, the Excitor III, hit two big waves, causing the women to become airborne and slam into the seat.

The second charge relates to an incident two months later that left Brisbane health worker Jan Phillips with broken vertebrae… more here

For more about this story read our blog from April 2011: Tourists Injured In Bay Of Islands Boat Incidents – Updated

Also in court today was Seafort Holdings Ltd who was ordered to pay $90,000 to Catherine Cooke, 53, who was left a paraplegic after a rough trip on the Mack Attack pleasure boat in the Bay of Islands. The company was also fined 30,000:

“…Richard John Prentice of Seafort Holdings had pleaded guilty two charges two charges of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harmed any other person and failing to notify the director of Maritime New Zealand of the occurrence of serious harm as soon as possible after the occurrence became known…” more here

Just days ago a young Australian woman Tarla Carpenter’s,  swing harness failed at the Nevis Bungy.

A terrified Tarla was hanging by her armpits above the Nevis Canyon

Other boating ‘accidents’ involving tourists in New Zealand

63 year old Canadian tourist Richard Evans was killed in a jet boat crash in Tauranga Harbour in February 2011.

The same month there was a boating collision in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. An Outward Bound cutter and a Dolphin Watch Ecotours boat  came into contact, leaving one  woman seriously injured and seven  others requiring treatment for minor to moderate injuries.

n December an Australian doctor, 49  year old Catherine Carlyle from  Adelaide, was flown to hospital with severe lacerations after coming into contact with a boat propeller in Ruakaka Bay, Marlborough Sounds.

Ms Carlyle hit the the boat’s prop as she jumped off the  back of the Dolphin Watch Ecotours vessel, sustaining deep lacerations to her legs and a possible fracture.

Before that young American tourist Emily May Parker, from Denver Colorado, was found face down in Marlborough Sound whilst on a tour with Dolphin Ecowatch Tours in October 2009.

In November 2010 five  people were taken to hospital when their Shotover Jet boat collided  with a cliff wall near Queenstown, among them were  tourists from Germany, the United States and Britain.

In September 2008, Chinese tourist Yan Wang, 42, was killed when a  jetboat operated by Kawarau Jets flipped over in the Shotover River.

Since 1995 the NZ Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has investigated at least  20 occurrences involving jet boats.

Three involved high-speed rollovers: one each in 1997, 1998  and 2008.

The  Commission made safety recommendations covering the fitment of rollover bars on jet boats operating on braided river systems and the need for accurate recording of passenger numbers on boats to assist emergency services. These three rollover accidents resulted in one fatality, five serious injuries and three minor injuries.

After series of fatal ‘accidents’ (mostly involving tourists) there was a wide ranging review of adventure tourism in New Zealand found gaps in  safety. Following the review recommendations were made to introduce a  registration scheme (not licensing) and mandatory safety auditing and regulations were recently introduced that will require operators to be registered and to undertake regular certificated safety audits.

Unfortunately the new regs didn’t take effect until October 2011 after which there will be a  three year long period of grace before all businesses will be required to comply. More tragically, the ‘accidents’ keep on happening.

How many more will be injured or killed before all adventure operators and the regulation authorities get their act together?

Caught by her armpits above the Nevis Canyon

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