Queenstown death could have been avoided’


The death of British tourist in Queenstown has been blamed on “misadventure” – and could have been avoided, a court has found.

UK Coroner Robin Balmain and a jury of nine people have this week concluded that Emily Jordan’s drowning, while on a Mad Dog Riverboarding trip on the Kawarau River on April 29, 2008, was caused by a range of factors.

“Firstly, information and instruction were not given to clients in a way that clearly represented the true risks of danger,” jury notes say.

“Secondly, the training received by the guides was inadequate for emergency rescue and entrapment and not specific to this particular activity of riverboarding. It was not regulated by an external body.

“Thirdly, lack of essential life-saving equipment to hand – such as a whistle, rope and knife – was a major factor in delaying the speed of rescue. Also, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ life jacket was clearly unsuitable for riverboarding in respect of buoyancy and lack of safety features.”

“Furthermore, a rescue craft was not available.”

Coroner Balmain adds: “None of these measures are rocket-science. They are measures which youngsters with little or no experience of the event were entitled to expect would be in place.”

Balmain, whose position has significant power in the UK, has decided not to make recommendations to New Zealand authorities, because it’s “not right to interfere” with NZ laws. He’s also reluctant to because of the NZ Government-led Adventure Tourism Review, which was sparked by Emily’s father, Chris Jordan.

The UK inquest has been held three years since Emily’s death. A NZ inquest was not held because of the Government review.

Jordan asked for an inquest in his home country because he was unhappy with the outcomes from a court hearing against Mad Dog in August 2009.

Back then, Mad Dog’s parent company Black Sheep Adventures pleaded guilty to two Health and Safety in Employment Act charges and was fined $66,000 and ordered to pay $80,000 in reparation.

Mad Dog owner Brad McLeod subsequently changed his company’s name to The River Boarding Co.