19 Mar 2018

Tour boat company to pay $93k after back-breaking injury

2:46 pm on 19 March 2018

A Bay of Islands skipper has been ordered to pay fines and reparations of more than $93,000 after one of his passengers broke their back during a boat ride near Paihia.

generic boat waves

Photo: 123RF

Richard Prentice was transporting tourists to the Hole in the Rock when the accident happened in October 2014.

Prentice was also the master of the Mack Attack during the accident.

In the Auckland District Court Judge Field found Prentice failed to advise passengers of the heightened risk of back injuries, even more so for older people sitting at the front of the vessel.

The passenger had been in the front row of the boat which was nearing Cape Brett when it struck a large wave at speed and came down heavily.

The 60-year-old woman was thrown forward and heard a crack when she landed back in her seat.

The injury caused a permanent disability and the loss of the woman's career, Judge Field said.

Judge Field found Prentice and his company Seafort Holdings guilty of one charge each under the Maritime Transport Act.

Maritime New Zealand said the convictions sent an important message to masters and owners of passenger vessels that they must take practical steps to keep pasengers safe.