Auckland boater sentenced for causing injury to diver
An Auckland boater has been sentenced this week following an accident where he struck a diver after failing to properly take account of a dive flag or slow down to five knots in the 200-metre vicinity of the dive flag, Maritime New Zealand said in a recent press release.
Shaun Hollinger was sentenced in the Auckland District Court under the Maritime Transport for operating a vessel in a manner that caused unnecessary danger or risk to another person.
The incident occurred in January 2022 when Mr Hollinger was skippering Rain or Shine, a 5.4-metre recreational vessel.
On that day, Rain or Shine was out near Little Barrier Island. At the time, another recreational vessel, named AWOL, was also in the area; it had seven people on board with some of the passengers diving.
The skipper of AWOL erected a diving flag to warn other vessels there were people in the water, Maritime NZ’s Manager General Regulatory Operations, Jason Lunjevich said.
“If a diving flag is erected,” said Mr Lunjevich, “other vessels within 200 metres of the flag need to slow down to five knots. This is to protect divers.”
After initially seeing the dive flag, Mr Hollinger did slow his boat down from 18 knots, but it was still travelling through the 200-metre, five-knot area at speeds of between 10 and 13 knots, more than double the permitted speed of five knots.
Witness reports describe how passengers on AWOL tried to make the skipper of Rain or Shine aware that there were people in the water.
However, they say there was no change in speed, and shortly after they heard a bang and a diver surfaced beside Rain or Shine yelling for help.
The diver suffered cuts to his head and a concussion as a result of the impact.
“This was completely avoidable and needlessly put a diver at serious risk of injury,” added Mr Lunjevich. “We are still in our busy period for recreational craft users, and diving, and we do not want to see repeats of incidents like this. If you see a dive flag, you must slow down to five knots and keep an eye out for people in the water.”
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