21 Feb 2009

Investigations underway into jetboat accident

1:05 pm on 21 February 2009

Maritime New Zealand and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission have begun inquiries into a jetboat crash on the Dart River, near Queenstown, in which three people were injured.

The Dart River Jet Safari boat, run by Ngai Tahu Tourism, overturned near the Dart River bridge just before 4pm on Friday.

Two of the 18 passengers on board suffered collar bone injuries and one received a knee injury.

Ngai Tahu Tourism spokesperson David Kennedy says he is not sure what caused the accident.

Mr Kennedy says the main priority was assessing injuries and transporting those who needed medical attention to Queenstown.

He says the boat's driver is distraught, but bearing up.

Mr Kennedy says Dart River Jet Safaris has been in operation since 1988 and carried hundreds of thousands of passengers. During that time he says it has had only one other accident, which was some time ago.

He says Ngai Tahu Tourism has also begun an investigation, and the jetboat company's service is suspended until further notice.

Third jetboat accident

It is the third jetboat accident in as many months on Central Otago waterways, with three people killed since Christmas.

A man died on Boxing Day in a crash on the Matukituki River and last month, two men died when a jet boat and jet ski collided on the Kawarau River.

Queenstown Lakes District council chief executive Duncan Field says it is the district's worst waterways accident record in 25 years.

The council's regulatory and corporate services manager Roger Taylor says there is no concern at this stage about safety standards for commercial operators.

He says people have to accept that jetboating is a risky activity.