He never stood a chance

Normally I’d make fun about Darwin getting his man, but there isn’t an awful lot of humour in a situation where someone climbs a pole and them jumps to their death assuming they will fall into the pool.   Here’s the property in Gisborne where the tragedy occurred:


As you can see, the lighting is for the tennis court, and not the swimming pool.  The overhead view will make this painfully obvious.  

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The light pole at the rear of the left hand side of the tennis court is the one he scaled and you can see on the image the distance to the pool edge is 3 meters, meaning he would have needed roughly 4 meters to clear the pool edge safely.

“I’m just going to carry him with me wherever I go,” says the best mate of Ben Sargent, who died in a New Year’s Eve pool jump that went badly wrong.

Sargent, 20, a carpet-layer, had climbed up a 10-metre tennis court lighting pole at a friend’s house in Gisborne and tried to jump into the pool. He landed on paving instead, and died in Gisborne Hospital soon afterwards from his injuries.

Scott Tallott, 18, was there when Sargent fell, and witnessed the last moments of his life in intensive care. The pair had been close since boyhood, Tallott said.

“I was there from age 10 to his very last breath,” he said. “I was in the ICU when he passed. I’m just never going to be able to shake that. I’m just going to carry him with me wherever I go.”

Tallott said that what led to Sargent’s death began as the sort of high-spirited stunt for which the pair were known. A group of friends were waiting for a taxi to take them to the Rhythm and Vines music festival when Sargent climbed the pole.

“It was nothing but an accident. He loved a bit of a risk, that was sort of our gig. That’s exactly why nobody stopped him, because people had seen us do stuff like that all the time. It was like, ‘Benny’s going to do another stunt’.”

I once attended a presentation by Celia Lashlie who worked in prisons.  She observed a lot of basically good young men end up in a place like that because of a single brain fart.  In fact, she says the biggest challenge for young men growing up is to not have a brain fart that changes your life.  Or in this case, ends it.

Some years ago, I watched as a mate climbed a suspension bridge support.  We all watched him do it, because he was normally doing stupid stunts like that.  Suddenly, he grabbed the well greased suspension cable with his hands and slid down to the ground.

As he hit the ground, looking at me with the widest smile, he asked why I had a look of horror on my face.   “Well, you’re a builder, and all it would have taken was for one strand of that steel cable to be poking out and you would have sliced all your fingers off”.

“Oh, didn’t think about that”.


– The Dominion Post

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.