24 Sep 2008

Rescue staff not available for search, inquest told

9:54 pm on 24 September 2008

The co-ordinator of a search for three men missing in a boat off the Wanganui coast had very little experience in maritime emergencies and ran the search by himself, an inquest has been told.

Senior Constable Barry Billows said none of the 11 police officers trained in search and rescue were available to help him on the night of the search, on 23 February this year.

The officer admitted that he did not tell Rescue Co-ordination Centre staff that he was working alone.

Mr Billows said having no one to help him meant he could not form an incident control team to help him run the search.

Geoffrey Hampton, 19, died after the boat sank.

The Government ordered a review into the search and rescue operation after concerns that the air force, which had a helicopter close by at Ohakea, was not called in.