Double Fatality - Grim Message

Dec 7, 2010

A double kayak fatality on Lake Wakatipu overnight sent a grim message to lake users, Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Debra Lawson said.

Two bodies were located in the freezing waters of the alpine lake at 1am this morning after a full scale search got underway after 10pm. The double kayak was privately-owned.

“I have been briefed by the Harbourmaster and we will await a Coronial Inquest but it would appear the deaths of these two young men could have been averted,” she said.

Understandably all involved in last night’s desperate rescue were left feeling saddened and frustrated.

“This is an awful tragedy for these men, their friends and family that should not have happened,” Ms Lawson said.

On behalf of the community Ms Lawson extended the Council’s deepest sympathy to the men’s families.

Nothing good could come of the fatality other than have it serve as a stark reminder to residents and visitors that even in summer in the Lakes District, conditions could change quickly.

“The water temperatures in Lake Wakatipu can be refreshing for a summer dip but lethal all-year-round for anyone trying to survive more than a few minutes, particularly in adverse conditions as they were last night,” she said.

The Council and the office of the Harbourmaster have consistently repeated the message that before venturing out on the lake, check conditions, wear lifejackets, notify someone of your plans and carry a cellphone.

“In this case I understand the deceased wore lifejackets and had a cellphone but that was not enough and the southerly conditions overwhelmed the men,” Ms Lawson said.


For further information please contact Debra Lawson 03 441 0499.

By: Andrea Bunting