Friday, July 30, 2010

Family: Bridge swing was 'disaster waiting to happen'

ublished: 6:50PM Thursday July 29, 2010
Source: ONE News

The safety of New Zealand's adventure tourism industry has come under the spotlight after the sentencing of a bridge swing operator.
Alastair McWhannell must serve 400 hours of community service and pay $10,000 to the family of Catherine Peters who was killed after plunging 20 metres off Ballance Bridge in a bridge swing activity near Woodville.
The Peters family used to call themselves the "awesome foursome" and told the court today that life was not the same as a trio.

"We still have to learn to live without our treasured Catherine," her father, Bosco Peters, said.
The 18-year-old was part of a group participating in a bridge swing activity.
A rope meant to keep her secure as she jumped from the bridge was found to be too long and not tied to rigging correctly, and she died of her injuries in hospital hours later.
"One could say it was not really an accident, but a disaster waiting to happen," Bosco said.
Almost 18 months on, the grief was clearly etched on her parents' faces.
During harrowing victim impact statements they described sleepless nights and excruciating sadness.
"We do not want a single other family to go through a nightmare like this," Bosco said.
The family was upset McWhannell had not accepted full responsibility.
In court today Bosco said New Zealand's "she'll be right" mentality meant the adventure tourism industry works without simple checks that could have saved Catherine's life.
The judge agreed, and said it was remarkable such a high-risk operation was without regulation.
Two years ago, the Prime Minister called for an adventure tourism review after a British tourist drowned while riverboarding.

The report is currently before Minister Kate Wilkinson and looks into making improvements.
But despite the Peters' loss, they said they were still the awesome foursome "even though we physically don't have four people".

"Catherine is still there in the way that she has influenced and changed us and made us who we are," her brother Jonathan said.
McWhannell will face more charges over the accident from the Department of Labour.
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