Lessons learned from the February drowning on the Buller

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The NZRCA believes the following lessons can be learnt from the drowning of Tim Jamieson on the Buller last February:
- Strainers are a major danger for kayakers
- A change in river flow (even a reduction) can increase the objective danger.
- If you do not have recent knowledge of a rapid then scout it with caution and ask for direction.
- All members of a group should communicate known hazards (including the own limitations in knowledge and skill) to each other and should be comfortable with advising each other of dangers.
- If you cannot see what is below an obstacle it is dangerous to paddle over it "blind".
- Ensure that you can exit your kayak as easily as possible (even if held against an obstacle).
- Ensure your Buoyancy Aid fits so that it will not come off unless you want it to.
- Consider carrying some means of calling for outside assistance if necessary (cell phone or locator beacon).
- Caution and knowledge (backed up by River Safety and Rescue Skills) are vital to ensuring a safe trip.

ali's picture

Pull your head out
I am a good frend of the instructor, know the 2 others that were on the section running courses and lived with Tim a year or so ago!
I am privy to ALL of the information that is out there. You have no idea how this has efected the people involved. your comments are i'll informed and do nothing to help people learn from this.
please aply more thought before engaging keyboard.
if you havre ANY problems with this, mail me.

river.action.nz's picture

From an instuctors point of veiw!!! It is all good to ask what was done prior to any accident on the water regardless on what it is. But we HAVE to accept that even the most astute instuctor cannot be be held liable for an injury or death by pure accident or uncontrollable act of a client. I have never experienced the above and hope that I never do, but I have had times when students have been informed of a danger and told how to avoid being in a dangerous position on the river and then decided that they knew better and "could handle it" All we can do is disclose ALL risk, control groups at the best of our ability and be prepared. In my experience 99% of NZ instructors are all of the above and we must remember that there will be unfortunate, unavoidable accidents that we can only learn from. Its the outdoors and the danger aspect makes it attractive. Without it would we get excited to be there??

ian2's picture

Hi Fergus.

I'm a bit blunter than Mike, so, bollocks. Sure this stuff should be known to all at the level of paddling on the trip concerned and I believe it was so I cannot see negligence on the instructor's part. I can only agree with Mike that it was largely one of those things.

mike27's picture

Hi Fergus

The NZRCA statement is not an "Assessment" - it is just meant as a reminder to us all.


The following is my personal response - not an NZRCA official one.

I understand that the group had been doing river rescue stuff only days before, I believe the person was probably well aware of the dangers of kayaking.

I believe this was really more of an "accident", that could have happened to any of us. I understand the instructor didn't specifically warn Tim of the log in this rapid, but how many of us have paddled rivers and not discussed every objective danger in the river.

I believe this instructor has been "crucified" by the politically correct idea, that somebody should be responsible for all deaths.

I think there is a huge difference between participants in a courses where people want to learn to become kayak instructors (and are capable of taking a little responsibility) and a "rafting" accident where "punters" off the street need to be protected from "Cowboys".

We need to be able to take some responsibility for our own actions, or somebody will stop us doing the things we enjoy (that may be a bit dangerous).

Paddle safely out there.


{disclaimer} I'm a friend of the instructor involved {/disclaimer}

fergus0's picture

Not a single point on this assessment is original. This is the sort of information that should be taught on the first day of a kayak school before the students have gone anywhere near moving water. Therefore, if the deceased was not privy to this information it basically proves gross negligence on the instructing party.