Safety First

By Jim McVeagh 12/01/2011

Coroner Demands Jet Ski changes

A Wellington coroner has demanded mandatory helmets, lap belts and roll bars for all Jet Skis in New Zealand, blasting the authorities for a lack of action.

In his reserved findings into the death of 21-year-old Elephant Farmer, Hamish MacTavish, coroner Ian Smith said at least 3 people had died from Jet Ski accidents in the past 10 years but coroners’ recommendations had been consistently ignored.

Mr. MacTavish died last year at Lake Taupo when his Jet Ski was swallowed whole by a great white shark.

“Had he been wearing a helmet and a lap belt and, most particularly, had his Jet Ski been fitted with roll bars, Mr. MacTavish would still be alive today” Mr. Smith stated, emphatically. “The roll bars alone might have successfully warded off the shark’s teeth. It is very difficult for a shark to get a good grip on a jet ski sporting decent roll bars. Think of the lives that might be saved”.

Mr. Smith was quick to criticise the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism as “A Do-Nothing minister” when Mr. Key was heard to mutter “what are the odds..?”

Earlier in 2010, Mr Smith also castigated the government for not legislating mandatory lap belts and roll bars on bicycles. He states that dozens of lives would be saved every year, mainly from people no longer using bicycles because they were impossible to steer with heavy roll bars. Mr. Smith has made many controversial safety recommendations over the years, including air bags on skateboards in 2008, safety nets in sandpits in 2005 and, in 2002, seeing-eye dogs for air hostesses in case of a failure of safety lights during an emergency landing.


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