More people drowned than died on the roads this weekend

Perhaps there should be calls for the beaches to be fenced after this weekend. 

A 70-year-old woman swept out to sea while walking along a West Coast beach is one of seven people killed in New Zealand waters over Waitangi weekend. 

The woman was walking along the water’s edge near the mouth of the Kohaihai River, near Karamea, with her partner on Sunday when a large wave took the pair by surprise.

Retired Karamea fire station chief Ed Tinomana said he and friend Matthew Lowe used an inflatable rescue boat to search for the woman.

“It’s a big sea, we could of zipped around here, there and everywhere.”   

A rescue helicopter spotted the woman’s body several kilometres north of where she was swept away and Tinomana and Lowe pulled her out of the water.

He said the area was well known to locals for having rough water.

“It was a big swell, you gotta have respect for it. They used to have signs up; it’s not the kind of beach you just go for a paddle in.”

He understood the couple were tourists staying in Karamea, and had been travelling in a campervan around New Zealand.

The woman’s death was one of seven over the long weekend as sweltering temperatures and clear skies saw beachgoers swarm to popular swimming spots.

Two women, four men and a 21-month-old boy died in water-related incidents across the country – triple the number of people who drowned during Waitangi weekend last year.

Just over a month into the year, New Zealand’s annual water death toll has already reached 18. 

Again, same as the holiday road toll, it is likely to occur, more people than ever before leave the cities and drive long distances with almost no practice, then proceed to try and breathe underwater.

Drownings in the ocean are few and far between in winter of course, so we cram all our accidents and drownings into a few short months.

Most of the 18 drownings this year have been in the oceans and rivers, and yet we have all the councils of the country slamming property owners and hitting them with fines and lumbering massive costs onto owners just because they have a swimming pool.

There is a disproportionate focus on home pools. How about someone prosecute the councils for not fencing waterways and beaches? If you don’t believe me then look at this from Drownbase for last year, where 108 people died from drowning…or a third of those killed on our roads.

You have twice as much chance of drowning in a public pool, where there are lifeguards, than at home.

I’m starting to wonder if the demise of school pools under the weight of oppressive OSH legislation isn’t now wreaking havoc on beaches and rivers.

 

– Fairfax

 

 


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