12 Jun 2012

Family criticises organisers of fatal powerboat race

7:05 pm on 12 June 2012

The family of a woman killed in a powerboating race on an Otago lake has criticised organisers for a lack of medical back-up.

The criticism was made during an inquest on Tuesday into the death of Lynley Burnett on Tuesday.

The woman died from chest wounds on 6 July last year, four days after being thrown from the high-speed boat Pure Insanity on Lake Waihola, near Dunedin.

Driver Garry Sexton, a South Island champion racer, was also injured. No reason for the boat rolling was found at the time of the accident.

Otago-Southland Coroner David Crerar was told there was no ambulance at the race site and the two paramedics present were off-duty, with one of them crewing a race boat.

During the hearing, Ms Burnett's brother David Burnett asked why the Milton Boat Club organisers had not paid for on-duty ambulance officers in case of an emergency and said the race's remote location should not have been an issue.

"There's no excuse saying you live in Milton or Waihola or wherever. If you're holding these events you pay, you get - and to use an excuse that we're in a remote area is unsatisfactory. There should have been an ambulance on site."

Mr Burnett said it was not enough to use off-duty paramedics, one of whom was a competitor in the race.

Garry Sexton told the inquest he believed a prior crash led to the cracking of the motor boat's transom support bar.

But maritime investigator Bruce McLaren said the evidence pointed to the boat striking the lake bed in a place where it was too shallow to be racing.

The Coroner has reserved his decision on the cause of the accident.