25 Aug 2009

Father says penalty for river boarding death too light

10:03 pm on 25 August 2009

The father of an English tourist who drowned on the Kawarau River near Queenstown last year says the fine imposed on the adventure company involved is too light.

Emily Jordan, 21, of Worcester, drowned in the river in April 2008 when she became trapped under rocks for 20 minutes.

Mad Dog River Boarding pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act in Queenstown District Court on Monday.

Judge Brian Callaghan on Tuesday convicted and fined the company on both charges for failing to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of Miss Jordan.

Mad Dog River Boarding was ordered to pay $66,000 in fines and $80,000 in reparation to Miss Jordan's family. The maximum possible fine was $250,000 on each charge.

Judge Callaghan said Mad Dog River Boarding failed to carry rescue ropes, did not adequately inform clients of the real dangers, and did not make it mandatory for staff to train in swift water rescue.

Miss Jordan's father, Chris Jordan, attended the trial brought by the Maritime Safety Authority and says he is disappointed at the level of sentencing.

However, he says he now wants to focus on making sure sweeping changes are made to the white water industry.

Mr Jordan says industry self-regulation is not working is calling on the Government to regulate the commercial white water industry. He is writing to Prime Minister John Key over the issue.

Mad Dog River Boarding director Brad McLeod has declined to talk to media on Tuesday.