Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Wed 18/Mar/09 12:18pm

A man has this morning been charged with manslaughter following the death of a teenager during a bridge swing over the Manawatu Gorge earlier this month.

Catherine Peters (18), a student at Massey University died when she fell over 20 metres on to a riverbed on Saturday, 7 March. She had been one of a group of students from the Massey University Alpine Club taking part in the introductory course at the Ballance Bridge on the Woodville side of the Manawatu Gorge

Following her death the police and Department of Labour launched independent investigations to establish why she fell and to report to the coroner.

As part of those investigations police seized equipment that was being used on the day and carried out a thorough examination of the scene. They have since consulted with experts and taken detailed statements from over 30 witnesses.

The comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of Miss Peters' death has resulted in a criminal prosecution namely the arrest of a 46-year-old man from Palmerston North who has been charged with manslaughter.

Detective Sergeant Allan Mullacrane, the officer in charge of the investigation stated: "The case is now sub judice so the detail of our investigative findings will not be disclosed. However I am prepared to say that the manslaughter charge results from our investigation into safety procedures."

The man will appear at Palmerston North District Court later today.

http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release.html?id=4919
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Stun on Wed 18/Mar/09 12:46pm

Why is this on a bike site?
It's like NZPA releases are being posted by default...
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Tama on Wed 18/Mar/09 12:58pm

Stun wrote:Why is this on a bike site?
It's like NZPA releases are being posted by default...

Whoops - didn't mean to homepage it there :p

It's a release direct from the police - I put it up as I think it's an interesting part of a broader story of outdoor activities and who is held responsible when things go terribly wrong. Keep in mind that many riding areas/ events only exist because land owners/ event organisers/ volunteers aren't in fear of litigation/ legal action.

I don't know the full story of why the man was arrested (manslaughter is pretty serious) but it did make me wonder how stuff like this and the canyoning tragedy are affecting the outdoor activities industry.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby tylersdad on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:20pm

he must have had some deliberatly un-maintained dodgy equipment for a charge like manslaughter.
isn't there usually a lesser charge like 'misadventure causing death' or the like ?
didn't the Uni say they had used this guy for years and were comfortable with his operation ?

will this be like the 'le race' fiasco ?
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Trail on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:30pm

From what i have heard.

This was the usual MUAC (Massey University Alpine Club) start of year bash. One of the things they always do at the MUAC freshers bash is get people bridge swinging off the Balance Bridge. I know, because I have done it a few times...

Back when i was there it was just older, more experienced club members setting up the safety etc. Sounds like these days they got an adventure company (crag adventures) in to do the bridge swinging side of things.

From my understanding, if the company running a commercial operation failed to meet safety requirements, then they can be charged.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Tama on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:32pm

tylersdad wrote:he must have had some deliberatly un-maintained dodgy equipment for a charge like manslaughter.
isn't there usually a lesser charge like 'misadventure causing death' or the like ?

My thoughts exactly. Manslaughter seems very serious in the context.

tylersdad wrote:will this be like the 'le race' fiasco ?

Can someone remind me what Astrid's charge was?
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Trail on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:32pm

tylersdad wrote:he must have had some deliberatly un-maintained dodgy equipment for a charge like manslaughter.
or he might have forgotten to do up all the safety gear on this one jump.

didn't the Uni say they had used this guy for years and were comfortable with his operation ?


8 years they had been running the bridge swing for MUAC, no mishaps.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby OAP on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:41pm

It only takes one small oversight to ruin a perfect record. At the end of the day its a tragedy both for the family of the girl and that of the poor bugger charged. Sure if some one is accountable they should be held to account.

No one wins, just bloody sad.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby pissface on Wed 18/Mar/09 1:53pm

manslaughter can arise just from carelessness.

an implication from the staement of the policeman might be that safety procedures were not properly followed or were insufficient.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Tama on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:02pm

OAP wrote:It only takes one small oversight to ruin a perfect record. At the end of the day its a tragedy both for the family of the girl and that of the poor bugger charged.
Agreed, our neighbour went to Catherine's Funeral. I can't imagine what it's like for her family to lose someone so early on in their life, or for the people who were involved in organising the event :(

As a flashback here is a very historic discussion on Vorb about Astrid's conviction: astrid-anderson-found-guilty-ramifications-t4606.html (which I believe was overturned)
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Dazzle on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:04pm

Tama wrote:It's a release direct from the police - I put it up as I think it's an interesting part of a broader story of outdoor activities and who is held responsible when things go terribly wrong. Keep in mind that many riding areas/ events only exist because land owners/ event organisers/ volunteers aren't in fear of litigation/ legal action.


Privatise ACC and make events take on full liability cover. :thumbsup:
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby JumpR on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:15pm

Dazzle wrote:
Tama wrote:It's a release direct from the police - I put it up as I think it's an interesting part of a broader story of outdoor activities and who is held responsible when things go terribly wrong. Keep in mind that many riding areas/ events only exist because land owners/ event organisers/ volunteers aren't in fear of litigation/ legal action.


Privatise ACC and make events take on full liability cover. :thumbsup:


Are you serious :ib: The implications would be massive if this occured - clubs too scared to run events for fear of being sued or inability to pay for (or secure) liability cover.
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Tama on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:22pm

JumpR wrote:
Dazzle wrote:
Tama wrote:It's a release direct from the police - I put it up as I think it's an interesting part of a broader story of outdoor activities and who is held responsible when things go terribly wrong. Keep in mind that many riding areas/ events only exist because land owners/ event organisers/ volunteers aren't in fear of litigation/ legal action.


Privatise ACC and make events take on full liability cover. :thumbsup:


Are you serious :ib: The implications would be massive if this occured - clubs too scared to run events for fear of being sued or inability to pay for (or secure) liability cover.

I'm hoping Dazzle's being ironic as that scenario gives me the shits. If New Zealand ever turns towards a legal framework/ culture of litigation lots of cool stuff we currently take for granted will get hammered.

If I got to help draft the "Constitution of New Zealand" I'd make sure that pretty close to the top there was something that said "The citizens of New Zealand understand that sometimes shit happens and no one is to blame."
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Henry Dorset Case on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:34pm

Tama wrote:
tylersdad wrote:he must have had some deliberatly un-maintained dodgy equipment for a charge like manslaughter.
isn't there usually a lesser charge like 'misadventure causing death' or the like ?

My thoughts exactly. Manslaughter seems very serious in the context.

tylersdad wrote:will this be like the 'le race' fiasco ?

Can someone remind me what Astrid's charge was?


criminal nuisance
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Re: Man Charged Over Gorge Bridge Swing Death

Postby Dazzle on Wed 18/Mar/09 2:42pm

Here is what the people voted for.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/columnis ... vatisation


I knew people that worked in the liability area for a UK local council. They sorted out the payments that were not covered by the liability insurance (anything under a mid five figures £ claim). It came at one point to £1million/year in direct payouts, + insurance levies for the rest of the pay outs, + lawyer fees and kept a half dozen or so people full time employed to do the paper work to deflect liability claims onto private property owners/businesses where ever possible. For a population about the size of Hamilton. :thumbsup: It could be quite profitable to break your arm, then make claims in six or seven different councils that it happened on a piece of mislaid paving on their footpaths. :thumbsup: Automatic pay outs. And you would only have to break a limb (or a family members limb) once or twice a decade to make an above average living.
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