Travel Firm Guilty Over River Death

Holiday Accident Abroad 


A New Zealand river adventure trip operator has admitted two charges relating to the death of a British tourist.

After becoming trapped in the Kawarau River Gorge on New Zealand's South Island, Emily Jordan, from Trimpley, Worcestershire, died while riverboarding - riding a body board on fast-flowing rapids.

Black Sheep Adventures Ltd - which trades as Mad Dog River Boarding - and company director Brad McLeod had previously both denied three charges each of failing to ensure the safety of their customers.

However, the company pleaded guilty to two charges after all charges against Mr McLeod and one against Black Sheep Adventures were dropped.

Mad Dog River Boarding guides did not carry ropes and the company's safety operation plan fell short of industry standards, Queenstown District Court heard.

Miss Jordan, 21, died after being trapped underwater by a rock for 20 minutes until another boat carrying ropes arrived and freed her body on April 29 last year.

Her father Chris said it was "obviously good news" that the company had pleaded guilty, adding "I think that's what's really come home to me, how preventable this death was."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Xanthe Andrews from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "I am sorry to see a report of yet another accident involving a river adventure trip. 

"I have dealt with other cases, involving accidents during river based activities abroad.  Safety is of primary importance on these trips, given the obvious dangers of deep water, rapid currents and rocks.  However, it seems that far too many of the companies, who organise these trips abroad, display a lackadaisical attitude to their clients' safety and wellbeing.

"The biggest tragedy of this case was that it seems to have been entirely preventable.

"I hope that steps will now be taken, to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.  I also hope that other companies organising these trips, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere, who hear about this incident in the media, will take note and examine whether their own safety procedures are up to scratch."