Let’s lay down law on riverboarding

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A Queenstown whitewater expert is calling on maritime cops to regulate riverboarding.

Stefan Crawford, 41, was speaking after last week’s harrowing trial of Mad Dog River Boarding and owner Brad McLeod after the Kawarau River death of English tourist Emily Jordan in April, 2008.

Crawford says Maritime New Zealand polices rafting and jetboating but not riverboarding – and they should.
“I’d like to see MNZ become more actively involved with riverboarding and sledging to work towards some similar regulations to benefit the industry.”

Other than prosecuting health and safety breaches – like Mad Dog’s – MNZ has a hands-off approach to riverboarding, whose only sanction is a voluntary industry code.

Regulating riverboarding wouldn’t be hard, Crawford says.

“We have a huge amount of resource within the existing whitewater industry, as well as MNZ’s experience.”
Crawford entered rafting in 1990 and is now a water safety consultant. MNZ enlisted him as an expert witness in May for a prosecution after a North Island rafting fatality.

After a plea bargain this week, Mad Dog’s parent company was fined $66,000 plus $80,000 in reparations. Charges against owner McLeod were dropped.