Like normall at this time of the year as the weather warms up and more people head out on their personal watercrafts, more people get themselves into trouble. I’ve alread seen a few news articles this year about jetski’s and jetskiers getting themselves in trouble here in NZ. The frustrating thing is that a lot of them time it comes down to common sense not being used.
By 3 News online staff
Police have described a father and son’s decision to go out on their jetski in rough seas near Whangarei yesterday as “sheer stupidity”.
They’ve also criticised other member’s of the pair’s family for returning to sea on another jetski after the pair had been rescued.
Northland Police Search and Rescue co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe says the father and son’s actions defied logic.
“They put their lives and the lives of those rescuing them at risk. Police are very disappointed in their actions and a family nearly lost two of their members just two days before Christmas. They are so lucky to have survived this ordeal.”
Severe weather warnings were in place at around 12pm yesterday when the 55-year-old man and his 15-year-old soon headed out from Langs Beach, on the east coast of the North Island. There were four-metre swells and wind gusts of 35-40km/h.
After they failed to return, around 1pm, another person went to search for them on a jetski, but could not to locate them.
Police were then alerted around 3pm, and a search team was assembled involving Police Search and Rescue, Whangarei and Kawau Coastguards, two inflatable rescue boats from Mangawhai and Waipu Surf Lifesaveing Clubs, and the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter.
“The conditions were so marginal that we couldn’t get a fixed wing aircraft in the air to search and we were lucky to be able to use a helicopter,” says Mr Metcalfe.
The pair were located by the helicopter around 5:45pm, just north of the Waipu River mouth. The man, who was unharmed, was picked up by the Whangarei Coastguard, while his son was winched onto the helicopter with signs of hypothermia.
Police Search and Rescue incident controller Constable Sue Grocott says the father and son’s jetski broke down while they were out checking craypots, and it hadn’t been serviced since last summer.
“People need to have their boats checked before taking them out to make sure they are seaworthy.”
Ms Grocott says the pair had no marine radio, cellphone, flares or emergency beacon.
“The only saving grace was that the pair had on lifejackets and was wearing surf wetsuits,” she says.
Police say they received information today that after the pair’s rescue, other family members went out on another jetski to retrieve the ski that had got their relatives into trouble.
“Last year 14 people drowned in Northland and already five have drowned this year, we don’t want any more deaths on the water,” says Ms Grocott.
She says the other family members’ actions were “completely irresponsible, considering two family members had just been rescued from rough sea and were lucky to survive”.