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Published: 2012-05-04 00:00:00

Two jet boat drivers convicted of unsafe operation of their vessels near Matamata last year have been fined a total of $3,000 by Judge Geoghegan in the Tauranga district court today.

The convictions and fines of David Ramsey and Lindsay Richards came about as a result of a prosecution taken by Waikato Regional Council under the Maritime Transport Act. It related to the collision of two recreational jet boats on the Waiomou stream, near Matamata in August 2011.

Ramsey and Richards were fined $1500 each and were also ordered to pay $500 each in reparation to one of the passengers injured in the collision who suffered a brain haemorrhage, concussion and lacerations.

The council investigation into the incident determined that the collision occurred on a blind corner on a narrow waterway with both jet boats travelling towards each other at speed. The collision resulted in three people being injured. Two were taken to Waikato Hospital where they were treated for serious injuries.

At sentencing, Judge Geoghegan said it was important that a message of deterrence was sent and “safety was paramount”.

The maximum penalty available under the Maritime Transport Act is a $10,000 fine and one year imprisonment.

Waikato Regional Council navigation safety manager Nicole Botherway said: “This was a serious incident that could have led to multiple fatalities. People operating powerful vessels such as jet boats need to take extreme care.

“This was a completely avoidable situation. Two jet boat operators knew that the other vessel was on that narrow waterway, and that in all likelihood were travelling towards each other, but they still approached blind corners at a speed where they could not avoid collision.

“Like many boating incidents, a day of fun and adventure has turned into near tragedy.

“The Waikato Regional Council will not hesitate to take action against those who put themselves and others at risk on our waterways.”