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Queenstown jet boat crash sparks investigation

Tuesday 8 Jan 2013 12:26 p.m.

A Dart River Safari jet boat in action last week (Photo supplied)

A Dart River Safari jet boat in action last week (Photo supplied)

Two commercial jet boat drivers have been stood down after an investigation was launched into a crash that involved 13 passengers.

The crash, which happened at 1:15pm last Friday, saw a driver and a passenger hospitalised with minor injuries. Both were released by the end of the day.

The drivers have both been stood down on full pay while Maritime New Zealand conducts a lengthy investigation into the cause of the crash.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) spokesperson Steve Rendle says while these kinds of accidents were not common, jet boat crashes were taken “pretty seriously”.

“It’s a high-profile industry, jet boat tourism, in New Zealand. Adventure tourism is a key part of the tourism industry so it’s taken pretty seriously when these things happen.”

Two MNZ investigators were talking to witnesses, the company and passengers and examining the boats in a procedure that could take a “number of weeks”.

The result of the investigation would be released to the public, says Mr Rendle.

Dart River Jet Safari could not comment on the crash while it was under investigation. The company is owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism and regional general manager David Kennedy said he “couldn’t comment on specifics”.

“Safety is the most important thing to the company and we have extremely detailed procedures dealing with particular safety on the river,” he says.

“Basically, we’re trying to make jet boating as safe as it can be in our businesses. We’re trying to avoid things happening at all times.”

The drivers could face a warning, having conditions imposed on their licences, or prosecution under the Maritime Transport Act, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

The jet boat industry has faced tightening safety legislation in recent months, after a law which came into affect on August 2 requiring all drivers to be licensed.

There have been two deaths in the commercial jet boat sector since 1999, with 42 operators carrying over 370,000 passengers a year.

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