Kawarau Jet may face new charge

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An alleged close shave between a Kawarau Jet boat and four bystanders – including harbourmaster Marty Black – could result in a prosecution.

Lakes Environmental compliance boss Tim Francis confirms he’s concluding an investigation into the Kawarau River incident of four months ago.

“We hope to have a file to Queenstown Lakes District Council with a recommendation [on whether to prosecute] within the next 10 days,” Francis says.

He’s investigating the incident under a section of the Maritime Transport Act aimed at operators causing “unnecessary danger or risk to any other persons” – and the Resource Management Act.

Kawarau Jet’s consent allows it to operate no closer than five metres from the edge of riverbank willows.

Harbourmaster Black won’t comment but Professional Skipper magazine labels the incident a “near miss”, saying Black was standing by his jetski near the riverbank with three other officials when they heard a jetboat coming downstream.

“[The boat] came around the edge of the small bay where the men were standing, touching willow tree leaves, a distance of around a maximum of two metres away and completely blind.”

Kawarau Jet co-owner Andy Brinsley won’t comment until his company’s presented with evidence.

However, he finds it “interesting” that Francis may press charges under the Maritime Transport Act. “I can tell you Maritime NZ have no interest in this.”

Francis: “It’s not that MNZ don’t have any interest – they focus on the more serious matters involving death and injury.

“They expect territorial or regional authorities to investigate matters under the MTA.”

A Kawarau Jet driver was charged by MNZ two months ago over a fatal accident last September.