Incident 19980314

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19980314?, 14 March 1998 12:00?, Fatal accident? / Entrapment-Tree?
Victim?: NZ, 42, Male
Location?: Manawatu/Manawatu/Ballance to ?/200m upstream of Ashhurst bridge?

Class?: 0
Flow?: Unknown, "Medium"
Boat Type?: Kayak-Touring/Unknown
Trip Type?: Private


A party of eight, including close relatives of the victim, descended the Manawatu Gorge from Ballance. Near the Ashhurst bridge, the nose of the victim's kayak became trapped in logs (willows?) and the swift-flowing water bent and pinned the kayak. Emergency services were alerted as companions and bystanders attempted to free the kayaker from the kayak. Ambulance staff, volunteer fire-fighters and bystanders all worked to keep the victim's head above water and to free the kayak.

A paramedic managed to get a rope around the victim, but an attempt to lift the kayaker by helicopter was unsuccessful. When the rope was passed to police on the opposite bank, they were able to dislodge the victim and drag him across the river, still in the canoe. Attempts at resucitation were unsuccessful.


It is not clear whether the victim or the group recognised the hazard (Recommendation 1.27).

It is not known whether the group was carrying rescue equipment or was trained in rescue techniques (Recommendation 1.9).

The report that a pull from the opposite bank freed both victim and kayak suggests that a successful rescue may have been achieved if that option had been attempted early on.

Principal's death shocks, 16 March 1998, Carlin Gerbich, The Evening Standard (Ed. 2, p1)
Te Horo School mourns principal, 16 March 1998, Audrey Ewan, The Evening Post (Ed. 1, p3)

Reported by?: Jonathan Hunt
Created: 2004-11-23, changed: 2004-11-23.