Queenstown jetboat crash: two drivers suspended

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Exclusive: Maritime New Zealand has stood down both drivers involved in Friday’s collision between two Dart River Jet Safaris craft.

Driver suspensions are “standard practice” during investigations of such incidents, MNZ spokesperson Steve Rendle says from Wellington today (Sunday).

The names of the two drivers haven’t been released.

Two MNZ investigators rushed to Queenstown on Friday, just hours after the collision at about 2pm on the Dart River near Glenorchy.

Local harbourmaster Marty Black is assisting the MNZ investigation team.

“It’ll be two or three days before they interview all the people concerned,” Black tells Mountain Scene today.

He says no one went into the water when the two craft collided.

“There’s no suggestion of equipment failure at this stage,” Black adds.

One Dart River Jet Safaris boat was carrying an unknown number of passengers upriver on one of the Ngai Tahu Tourism-owned company’s scenic three-hour excursions.

Black says the other jetboat “was coming down river empty after dropping off passengers and equipment” for the company’s associated Funyaks operation.

Friday’s collision reportedly hospitalised two passengers with minor injuries. Mountain Scene has been unable to obtain updates on their conditions.

The crash comes just two months after the Transport Accident Investigation Authority, New Zealand’s top accident watchdog, officially ended a 16-year campaign to beef up commercial jetboating safety.

TAIC now labels jetboating as having a “low” level of risk.

Among 76 safety recommendations TAIC urged on MNZ during its long campaign were 13 improvements to driver training, qualifications, fitness and licensing.

Two recommendations stemmed from accidents involving Dart River Jet Safaris boats.