14 May 2010

Safety recommendations heard at Tekapo inquest

8:05 am on 14 May 2010

An inquest into the deaths of three fishermen on Lake Tekapo last year has heard a recommendation that it be compulsory to wear life-jackets on vessels of under six metres.

The men, from Timaru, went fishing on Lake Tekapo on 21 October 2009 and were reported missing that night.

The body of Alexander Hayward, 72, was found the following morning, but the bodies of his son Anthony Hayward, 46, and their friend Murray Green, 54, have never been found.

After hearing the men were not wearing life-jackets and were relying solely on mobile phones for communication, the coroner endorsed two recommendations from the National Pleasure Boat Safety Forum.

The forum suggested making it compulsory for recreational boats to carry communications equipment, and that wearing life-jackets become mandatory on vessels of under six metres.

After the inquest, Judith Hayward, who lost her husband and son in the tragedy, said she would like to see recreational boats made more safe, and the mandatory wearing of life jackets.

"It didn't end very well for us, but I hope that other people will learn a lesson from it," she said.

Senior Constable Brent Swanson told coroner Richard McElrea there were strong winds the day the men went missing and Lake Tekapo was extremely rough.

Mr Swanson says police believe the men's four-metre boat struck a submerged object, throwing them into the freezing water.

He says historically Lake Tekapo has not given up bodies due to its depth and temperature.