Queenstown jetski rider left for dead – mate faces charges

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A Queenstown teen jetskier – who knocked out a mate in a crash then allegedly abandoned him in the freezing water – is facing charges. 

Queenstown police senior sergeant John Fookes confirms a 19-year-old man is being charged with criminal nuisance and further charges could follow. 

The police action comes after two 19-year-old mates collided on jetskis near the entrance to Queenstown’s Kawarau River on Christmas Day. 

One of the men – knocked unconscious in the accident – woke up in the water with a broken jaw, serious facial injuries and little memory of what had happened. 

The injured man’s first thought – after swimming to shore and making his way home hours after the smash – was for his friend who he believed to be missing. 

The victim called police about 8pm, sparking a search and rescue operation involving a helicopter, jet boat, Coastguard Queenstown and harbourmaster Marty Black. 

Searchers found the injured man’s mangled Kawasaki jetski about 200m above the confluence of the Shotover River. 

His friend was later tracked down unhurt at home. 

Black told Mountain Scene on Boxing Day he suspected the incident was caused by another jetski riding over top of the Kawasaki in a possible hit-and-run incident. 

That scenario was set aside days later when local sergeant Brian Cameron said police thought there was only one jet-ski involved in the accident. 

“It’s just a case of this boy having his crash and then waking up not realising that the other chap had already finished for the day,” he said at the time. 

However, police have now changed tack again after further investigations. 

Senior sergeant Fookes told Mountain Scene yesterday: “As a result of some enquiries, police re-interviewed one of the men and based on that interview, he was charged.” 

“Given some aspects of the incident, further charges are being considered,” he adds.