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Waterskiing pair convicted over Canterbury crash in which woman was dragged under jet boat

Two men were convicted and fined yesterday in the Christchurch District Court following a jet boat accident in 2019 that caused injury to two women.

Generic photo: waterskiing. Source: istock.com

Rory Alexander Middleton Fisher and Jackson Liam Harraway, both 21, were sentenced and fined under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for their part in a boating collision that saw a woman concussed and another woman dragged underneath a jet boat at Lake Hood near Canterbury.

The incident happened after the jet boat that Fisher, who had limited boating experience, was driving crashed into a biscuit three women were riding on.

Maritime rules state that "no one operating a boat is allowed to go faster than five knots and tow someone without having an adult on board to keep a look out".

However, the jet boat was being driven at a speed of 20-25 knots and since there was no spotter on board, Fisher "frequently turned around to communicate with Harraway", who owned the boat and was water skiing behind it, a press release from Maritime New Zealand said today.

“Mr Fisher did a U-turn on the lake at speed and collided with a biscuit three women were riding on, which was being pulled by another boat. One woman was knocked off the biscuit and pushed under the boat. She suffered injuries to her head, jaw and elbow and lacerations to her legs. Another woman was concussed,” the statement said.

The pair both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary danger or risk to another person and were each fined $7300.

Maritime NZ’s southern compliance manager, Domonic Venz, says the case sends a strong message that there must always be a spotter or lookout on board when towing anyone at speeds over five knots.

“It was extremely lucky that no-one was more seriously injured or even killed. Both boats were travelling at speed and the injuries could have been much worse.”

“This was a high-risk situation,” Venz says.

“The lack of a spotter on board meant that the driver had to look behind him and so there were extended periods when he was not looking where he was going.

“We want people to have fun on the water but in a safe way. Driving a boat at speed, with limited experience and with no one on board to keep a look out, is extremely dangerous,” he says.