29 Dec 2008

Jetboat driver may be charged after fatal incident

9:29 pm on 29 December 2008

Charges may be brought against the driver of a jetboat that crashed, killing a man, on the Matukituki River near Wanaka on Boxing Day.

National Jetboating Association president Jeff Donaldson was driving the boat when it flipped on the river, killing British doctor Paul Woods, 29. Two other people were seriously injured and are still in Dunedin Hospital.

Queenstown Lakes District harbourmaster Marty Black and the police say it appears the craft was travelling in excess of the five knot speed restriction on the river. Mr Black says that could indicate driver error was responsible for the crash.

However, Maritime New Zealand spokesperson Ross Henderson says it is too early to start making assumptions and the formal investigations will determine why the jetboat flipped.

Radio New Zealand has been told the jetboat would not have been able to negotiate that section of the river unless it was travelling faster than five knots. The speed restriction is in place because a debris collection structure spans the waterway nearby.

Two other people who were in the boat are still in Dunedin Hospital.