Mum’s rock shock

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Woman’s close shave as boulder drops in.

A shocked Queenstown mum had a narrow escape when a large boulder plunged 15 metres from a hillside development site and smashed on to her patio.

Anna Hunt was hanging up washing when the 40kg rock crashed into the Chandler Lane garden in Fernhill after being dis­lodged by a mechanical digger.

“There was a rumbling then a noise like an ex­­plosion when a big stone hit the ground not too far from me,” Hunt says. “I got a real fright.

“The kids were at home and I shudder to think what could have happened if they’d been outside.

“I’m appalled. Someone could have been killed.”

The rock was only stopped from bouncing through patio doors and into their living room by a garden table and chairs, claims Hunt’s partner, Mike Stone.

He was inside with three teenagers when the 11am incident happened on April 17.

“If the boulder hadn’t hit the [garden] table, it could have gone right through the glass doors,” Stone says.

“It also hit a chair that our cat usually sits on and damaged several patio tiles.”

Stone immediately alerted the digger driver, who was unaware of the drama below.

“The guy was horrified and asked me not to report it.”

The rock fell from a seven-section site being cleared by 
Queenstown-based developer Gary Rovin.

Stone contacted council enforcement quango Lakes Environ­mental, who quickly sent staff to investigate.

“One of our subdivision inspectors and myself went to the site within two hours of being made aware of the situation,” LE’s Malika Rose says.

Rose believes the boulder was dislodged by a digger “whilst removing scrub and broom from a portion of the site directly above Mr Stone’s property”.

She adds: “We instructed the contractors to make the site safe until their engineer could assess the situation further and a temporary fence was installed.

“The Department of Labour has also been kept fully informed of the situation.”

Work has been halted until new safety measures are agreed with LE, says Grant Meldrum, the developer’s engineer.

“It’s a sizeable stone that came down and it’s certainly something I’m concerned about,” Meldrum says.

“Because of that, we’ve stopped operations until we have a plan in place to make sure it can’t happen again,” he adds.

However, Stone is unhappy with an offer from the developer to repair his patio tiles and garden furniture.

“We’ve been told by Meldrum to have it sorted and send in the bill.

“That’s not good enough.

“Why should we pay up-front and then claim the money back off the developer?

“We haven’t even had a proper apology.”

 

Let’s do the maths

An engineer tells Mountain Scene a 40kg rock falling the distance this one did would hit the patio at between 40-62kmh.

It would have also produced the equivalent kinetic energy of a cricket ball being bowled at some 995kmh.