Monday, December 31, 2007

Police Critical Of Rescued Boat Owner

A Milton man rescued off Taieri Mouth with two passengers early yesterday did almost everything wrong, according to police, who are furious he had no working emergency devices on his 5.1m trailer boat. Barry Carr (50), his son Jamie (21) and Jamie’s girlfriend, Cassie George (19), planned a day’s fishing on Saturday but engine trouble left them stranded at sea with no way of alerting emergency services. They were found safe and well near the Bull Creek coast about 7am yesterday. Police criticised Mr Carr, who had no working emergency devices on his boat and told noone of his plans. Police estimated the cost of the search for the trio which included a night search by the rescue helicopter at $10,000. Mr Carr yesterday called some of the police’s claims ‘‘hogwash’’ but understood emergency services were frustrated. At no time did the three fear for their lives, but Mr Carr conceded he was relieved when help arrived. Senior Sergeant Steve Aitken, of Dunedin, said the trio were lucky. They had no cellphone, flares or marine radio, and had told no-one of their exact plans. ‘‘People need to be a lot more aware of the potential damage that can happen. These guys have made no preparation for things if they go wrong,’’ he said.Senior Constable Steve Griffiths, of Milton, said the group launched the boat at Taieri Mouth on Saturday morning. The alarm was raised at 10pm on Saturday. Mr Carr’s boat had engine problems when he was returning to the coast on Saturday afternoon. The boat’s auxiliary engine was used but this too failed after a short time, leaving the three passengers drifting at sea. A UHF radio on board was not working. Sen Const Griffiths said the boat drifted south along the coastline until its anchor struck the seabed at Watson’s Beach, near Bull Creek. A rescue helicopter searching for the missing boat spotted it about 1.30am. Two boats reached the missing trio soon after dawn and one towed the stricken vessel back to shore. All three passengers were fit and well, Snr Const Griffiths said. When contacted yesterday, Mr Carr defended himself against the police criticism. He had left his cellphone in his truck but the marine radio was new and had just been installed. He could not understand why it did not work. He denied no-one knew his trip plan. His partner knew he would be in touch within four hours of high tide but was away in Invercargill and did not realise there was trouble until she got home late on Saturday night. It was unfair of police to criticise a lack of preparation when he believed he had done everything in his power to keep himself and his passengers safe.

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