‘Lapse’ causes jet boat crash

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A Shotover Jet boat driver’s ”lapse of judgement” caused the boat to hit a rock face in October, a Maritime New Zealand investigation has found.

None of the boat’s seven passengers was injured when it clipped a canyon wall near Edith Cavell bridge on the Shotover River, causing minor damage to the boat’s stern.

Maritime NZ spokeswoman Sophie Hazelhurst says the finding’s backed up by the company’s own investigation.

It identified a need to improve Shotover Jet’s ”system of providing additional monitoring of drivers after their initial training, particularly during the early stages of their operational driving”.

The agency says the company’s response is appropriate and it will monitor progress.

Hazelhurst says the driver completed 122 hours of training since joining the company in May and passed a driving assessment by the Queenstown harbour master.

Shotover Jet, owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism, is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River canyons.

Ngai Tahu Tourism southern regional manager David Kennedy says such incidents are ”quite rare” because of the extensive training it gave its drivers.

The company is required by law to provide 50 hours of commercial driver training, but did 120 hours.

When incidents occur, the company takes them ”very seriously” and was happy with Maritime NZ’s findings.

”We deal very closely with Maritime NZ at all times, and we’re always looking to improve our safety and systems wherever we can.”

The driver, who was stood down pending the investigation, is back at the wheel.

The company has 13 drivers, some of whom had been with the company for more than 10 years, he said.

However, normal staff turnover meant their range of experience changed from year to year as new drivers were occasionally taken on and trained, he says.

Otago Daily Times