28 Dec 2008

Fatal jet-boat accident puzzles locals

7:10 am on 28 December 2008

Mystery surrounds a fatal jet-boat accident on Friday near Lake Wanaka. A British doctor died when the boat flipped.

Three jet boats were travelling in convoy up the Matukituki Valley late Friday afternoon when one of them failed to negotiate a braided section of river.

The boat flipped, throwing all five passengers into the water. Paul Joseph Woods, 29, a UK doctor, was killed when the boat rolled on top of him.

Two other people were flown to Dunedin Hospital for treatment.

Constable Mike Johnston of the Wanaka police says the accident was unusual, he says, because the location is not known to be dangerous and he has never heard of this happening to a jet-boat before.

Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black says the driver of the boat that crashed is one of the most experienced jet-boaters in the country. But legislation is needed to make jet-boating safer, he says.

At the moment, Mr Black says, anyone can drive a jet-boat as long as they are over 15 - and they don't have to pass any safety tests.

A jet-boat expert examined the scene on Friday and a maritime safety inspector is joining the investigation on Saturday.

Police are trying to locate Dr Woods's next of kin. Mr Johnston says those involved in the accident were friends and family on holiday together.