Police blame “completely inadequate” supervision for a 13-year-old almost drinking himself to death at a snowboard training camp in Wanaka.
A just-released police report on a youth camp for 13-18 year-olds in June – run by Snow Sports New Zealand coaching director Adam Dooney – accuses SSNZ of “negligence”.
Tim Herbert, then 13, ended up hospitalised in an alcohol-induced coma after downing 700ml of 35-per-cent-proof Jagermeister in 20-30 minutes at Base Backpackers.
He fully recovered.
While police laid no charges, constable Philip Vink’s October 19 report says Base was an extremely poor venue choice, supervision was “completely inadequate” – and five young males out of 30 on the camp made poor choices in stealing booze from the backpackers.
Vink says SSNZ now offers a mentoring programme but that future camp plans should be reviewed by “persons/organisation with greater experience and understanding of youth and children who they are intending to care for”.
“SSNZ had a clear duty of care … and was in my opinion negligent. This would have been the critical focus of an enquiry should the incident have gone to [the] Coroner’s Court.”
SSNZ boss Ross Palmer, who’s previously apologised for failing to ensure a safer environment, says he has “no issues” with the police report and is confident SSNZ has addressed its findings. Dooney has since run two “tremendously successful” camps for at-risk youth, Palmer says.
In June, Palmer told TVNZ: “When teenagers take it upon themselves to break the law, it brings significant embarrassment on our organisation.”
Two weeks ago Palmer told Mountain Scene why he fronted the Jagermeister fallout – “I didn’t leave my coach director [Dooney] to hang out to dry.”
In the same interview, SSNZ chairman Rick Pettit defended Palmer, saying he had nothing to do with June’s camp.