Home' Greymouth Star : February 19th 2014 Contents www.greystar.co.nz
Ex-Hokitika plane on
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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014
Est. 1866 Phone 769 7900
No charges yet for
high speed fatality
Almost a month after a Runanga
man was killed in a high speed car
crash in Greymouth, police have
still not laid any charges over the
death of backseat passenger Judd
Hall. Mr Hall was in a vehicle
with two other young men when
they were involved in a 10-second
police pursuit along High Street,
on January 24. e vehicle smashed
into a vacant house, knocking it
o its foundations. e driver was
impaled by a piece of wood from
the house, and both he and his
front seat passenger spent weeks
recovering in Grey Base Hospital.
West Coast police area commander
Inspector John Canning said today
the investigation was "progressing
well" but no charges had been laid at
West Coast births
e number of babies born on the
West Coast is at its lowest level in
a decade. Statistics New Zealand
gures released today show 385
live births on the Coast last year,
compared to 416 in 2012. at is
the lowest since 2003, when there
were 334. e death rate was more
stable at 291. Although it was 252
in 2012, the year before it was also
291. Nationally, the number of
births dropped in most regions,
with Auckland having the biggest
decrease. e trend towards older
childbearing continues. In 2013
women aged 35-39 years had more
babies than women aged 20-24 for
the rst time.
A woman who has su ered from
constant hiccups for more than a
decade says she is in despair over
her condition. Amanda Corby,
46, of Hull, has bouts of hiccups
ve times a day every day, leaving
doctors ba ed. She hiccups every
two seconds in episodes that can
last up to 10 minutes at a time. She
said: "I've tried scaring myself and
sipping water --- all the old tricks,
but nothing works for me. I tried
hypnosis once which stopped the
hiccups for three months, but then
they started up again. I'm out of
ideas as to what to try next." Miss
Corby, who works in a bingo hall,
says her ailment has caused mirth
among colleagues and customers.
--- Daily Mail
Longer sunny spells
(Supplied by Nelson Weather Service) Skipper not ordered to dock
Talleys Fisheries atly rebutted a claim in
the Coroner's Court in Greymouth today
that it had ordered West Coast sherman
Nicholas Brett Ecklund to make a dangerous
low-tide crossing of the Grey River bar that
ultimately cost him his life.
Mr Ecklund, 36, drowned after his boat the
Lady Anna rolled on the bar about 7.30am
on April 16 last year. His two crew members,
Jethro Carson and Joseph Campbell, survived
A former Talleys sherman, Mark omas,
said he was unloading his vessel at the time
of the capsize and had been told by a Talleys
employee that he had to be nished and "out
of there" by 8.30am because the Lady Anna
was due in port.
Talleys Westport-based West Coast
manager Kerry Paterson said he spoke to Mr
Ecklund via radio at 7am.
"He (Mr Ecklund) said the bar was not
looking ash and I said that there was no
need to come in because he could unload later,
the truck was not arriving until 11 (am)," Mr
"He said that he'd come in and have a look
(at the bar), and that was the last I heard of
e court heard yesterday that after being
tipped out of the boat, Mr Ecklund treaded
water in the mouth of the Grey River for
16 minutes waiting for a rescue that never
e transcript of the police communications
log detailing the response from police and
rescue services showed that police had cars
on the way to both tipheads within two
minutes of the 111 call and arrived on site
two minutes later. Dialogue between o cers
on the ground and the communications
desk revealed that it was at least about 12
minutes into the operation before the West
Coast Rescue Helicopter took ight from the
At 11 minutes and 22 seconds into the
operation, the helicopter, with a rescue
swimmer aboard, was " ring up and should
be in the air shortly''. At 14mins 59s it was
reported by police on the tiphead that Mr
Ecklund was "getting real close to the rocks
and going under".
e next contact a minute later was: "He's
doing all right but he's struggling, though"
and at 16mins it was: "He's unconscious in
the water, upside down". At 18mins Cobden
man Steve Newby dived into the water and
recovered the body.
Crewman Jethro Carson yesterday gave a
harrowing account of the three men being
trapped in the cabin of the upturned boat.
During the bar crossing he had watched
the stern as three big swells built up but went
under the boat without breaking. He then
noticed a big wave approaching and counted
down its arrival "4-3-2-1" to the skipper.
When the wave hit, the boat listed heavily to
the port side.
Mr Carson said he thought the vessel would
right itself, but next minute it was upside
"We were standing on the roof (of the
wheelhouse), I was trying to get the door
open, diesel was pouring in like rain and the
main engine was still running but there was a
drum of oil jamming the door," he said.
Eventually, he managed to force the door
open and all three ended up in the water.
Mr Carson helped pull Mr Ecklund, who
was lethargic and out of breath, up on to the
"I said 'we have to get o this' but Nick said,
'no, stick with it until we can't stick with it any
more'. Joe (Campbell) and I had just grabbed
a life ring when a wave swept us o one side
and Nick down the other."
Mr Carson said they tried to paddle to the
skipper but were at the mercy of the currents,
which took them in di erent directions;
they ended up on the rocks and Mr Ecklund
oated around the tiphead.
Mr Carson did not know that his skipper
used cannabis and, in answer to the coroner,
said there was no pressure from Talleys, either
implicit or implied, to cross at low tide.
Maritime Safety investigator Domonic Venz
said Mr Ecklund was known to be a cautious
skipper who did not push the limits, but in
this instance he erred and did not follow best
practice by crossing the bar when it was at its
most dangerous, low tide.
A toxicology report showed that there was
no alcohol in Mr Ecklund's blood but there
were traces of cannabis. e toxicologist
said it was likely that the cannabis had been
consumed on board the boat because the
men had been at sea for six days and traces
probably would not have been present in the
blood had the cannabis been taken before
A passage in a report from the hearing
yesterday said that "a guy in a white ute" had
said it was okay for the skipper of the Lady
Anna to cross the Grey River bar, just before
the vessel capsized.
e full passage, from a statement Lady
Anna crewman Joseph Campbell gave to
police, read: "Nick (Eklund) was talking to a
guy in a white ute as we were heading in. I
don't know who the guy was but felt it was all
sweet and we headed in."
e wreck of the Lady Anna, oating in the mouth of the Grey River after the April 2013 tragedy.
Hospital at end of its life
--- engineering report
An engineering report commissioned
by the Government has concluded that
Grey Base Hospital is in such a poor
state of repair that an entirely new
hospital would actually be cheaper than
e report by Opus was released this
week under the O cial Information Act
after the National Health Board cited
it as the reason it was looking at new
options, including a complete rebuild,
rather than the business case for a mixed
building, as submitted by the West
Coast District Health Board.
at prompted hospital clinical sta ,
concerned that years of consultation had
gone out the window as a new option
was put on the table, to pen an open
letter to the West Coast public declaring
that they were in the dark and "gravely
concerned" at the sudden change in
Opus says the brickwork on the
existing hospital has degraded and the
failure of the cladding in an earthquake
could create "serious hazards" to people
inside or close by.
" e majority of the buildings ... are
at, or have exceeded their normal life
e roof was in poor condition and
needed patching up regularly to stop
leaks, while the exterior brickwork
was in "generally poor condition". A
coating applied at some point may have
contributed to aking after frosts, and
failure of the 'ties' was noted at one point.
In some places the concrete had failed
and the reinforcing steel was exposed,
though this was not widespread.
e majority of windows and doors
were in poor condition and draughty,
and the salt air had "severely a ected"
some exposed areas.
e main piped services were due
for replacement, the lighting system
was outdated, circulation pumps were
reaching the end of their life, and a
single failure could cut services to whole
areas of the hospital.
Opus concluded that the roofs,
windows, door, oor and wall nishes,
xtures and ttings, plumbing system,
ventilation and electrical systems were
all at end of their life.
Interior walls, heating systems and re
protection systems had only six years
"Signi cant expenditure is therefore
required in the short term to allow
the facility to continue to operate as
Engineers calculated that over the
next 40 years a new building would be
the cheapest option, and extending the
life of the existing hospital by 10 years
would be the most costly.
Most of the buildings are between 35
and 45 years old. A new building would
be more energy e cient, withstand an
earthquake better, and building it would
be less disruptive.
An earlier detailed engineering report
found that parts of the hospital were an
earthquake risk and as a result, some
areas were vacated last year.
Arthur's Pass marks 150th
e 150th anniversary of the discovery
of Arthur's Pass, opening up the rst road
from Canterbury to the West Coast, will be
commemorated with a weekend of celebrations
in Arthur's Pass village on March 14-16.
Canterbury government engineer Arthur
Dobson 'discovered' the old Maori trail in
March 1864, naming the pass after himself. e
same route today is State highway 73.
e commemorations are a combined e ort
between the Department of Conservation and
the community, and include the formal opening
of a new walking track, a church service at the
chapel, and a celebration bu et.
A display will be set up showing historical
photographs chronicling the construction of
the road, local identities and the Otira Viaduct.
Arthur's Pass Community Centre secretary
Gerald Bruce-Smith said it was a good way to
celebrate the history of the area.
"It's a chance to ll the village up with people
who had property here or input here over the
years," Mr Bruce-Smith said.
ey hoped to encourage people from around the
country with links to the village to return for the
" e more the merrier, the road was put in to
connect Canterbury and the West Coast."
It would be a busy weekend, with at least 100 people
expected over the three days of celebration.
"Highway 73 is going to be busy."
Mr Bruce-Smith, who has lived in Arthur's Pass for
10 years, said it would be a chance to hear memories
from past years.
"It's a fairly quiet place now, it'd be good to get some
numbers back and relive some of the good times."
PICTURE: Courtesy John Charles
State highway 73 has come a long way since this scene of
stage coaches crossing the Otira River at Barrack Flat, near
the foot of the Otira Gorge, in the early 1900s. e journey
was often an arduous one, with carriages packed with up to
14 people. Celebrations next month will mark the 150th
anniversary of the opening of the east-west road link through
16-minute wait for rescue that arrived too late
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