Rescuers failed kayaker, says wife

Monday, 10 December 2007
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The first day of the corners inquest into the death of Tasman paddler Andrew McAuley had his wife Vicki on the stand giving testimony of what happened from her perspective.

She said that if the New Zealand coastguard had of let her listen to the full distress message Andrew might have been found.

"I believe this was a critical decision," she said. "Had I been allowed to listen to the message I could have without doubt identified Andrew's voice and it would have allowed Paul (kayak designer Paul Hewitson) to calculate Andrew's position.

"The search could have commenced from Paul's co-ordinates that night or at least first thing in the morning. That could have made all the difference."

She later told the Invercargill Coroners Court, in New Zealand, that she appreciated the efforts of the rescue centre, and believed they did the best they could.

The centre's operations manager, John Seward, said he had not let Mrs McAuley listen to the rest of the call because it was indecipherable and he did not want to distress her.

Mr Seward said they treated the call as genuine and, after estimating his position, sent a helicopter, while also redirecting ships in the area to look for him. Poor weather forced the helicopter pilot to return to base.

The coroner hopes to release his findings before the end of this month.

More info: theage.com.au

The first day of the corners inquest into the death of Tasman paddler Andrew McAuley had his wife Vicki on the stand giving testimony of what happened from her perspective.

She said that if the New Zealand coastguard had of let her listen to the full distress message Andrew might have been found.

"I believe this was a critical decision," she said. "Had I been allowed to listen to the message I could have without doubt identified Andrew's voice and it would have allowed Paul (kayak designer Paul Hewitson) to calculate Andrew's position.

"The search could have commenced from Paul's co-ordinates that night or at least first thing in the morning. That could have made all the difference."

She later told the Invercargill Coroners Court, in New Zealand, that she appreciated the efforts of the rescue centre, and believed they did the best they could.

The centre's operations manager, John Seward, said he had not let Mrs McAuley listen to the rest of the call because it was indecipherable and he did not want to distress her.

Mr Seward said they treated the call as genuine and, after estimating his position, sent a helicopter, while also redirecting ships in the area to look for him. Poor weather forced the helicopter pilot to return to base.

The coroner hopes to release his findings before the end of this month.

More info: theage.com.au

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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