17 Nov 2014

Police apologise for search delay

5:24 pm on 17 November 2014

Police have apologised to the family of a man, who drowned after last being seen alive on the Heaphy Track in the South Island's Kahurangi National Park last year.

A coroner has entered an open verdict on whether Andrew White's death by drowning was accidental. This type of verdict does not specify whether a crime was involved.

Mr White, who was in his 50s and from Karamea, had a history of mental health problems and had not been heard from for a number of days before his disappearance. He had gone into the Heaphy Track from the Takaka end on 6 August.

In giving evidence, West Coast area commander Inspector John Canning apologised for the delay it took police in Westport to start searching for him.

Mr Canning said there were enough alarm bells in the missing person's report to give it utmost urgency.

The West Coast District Health Board had also carried out a serious incident review to ensure more follow-up for people who have recently been discharged from respite care.

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